OLYMPIA—The new state budget puts a record amount of new funding into our public schools and cuts college tuition without raising new taxes.
“This is a budget for the people, not the powerful,” said Rep. Christine Kilduff (D-University Place). “It’s a budget for middle class moms and dads with kids in public schools, for teachers and state employees who’ve gone year after year without a raise and for every college student struggling to pay the astronomical price of tuition. And it’s a fiscally responsible budget that moves our state, and our economy, in the right direction.”
The two-year budget puts $1.3 billion in new funding into public schools, the largest increase in education funding in state history. All college students will receive a 5 percent tuition cut in the 2015-16 school year. Students at the state’s flagship research universities, the University of Washington and Washington State University, will get another 10 percent reduction and students at regional universities will get another 15 percent cut.
The state will also invest an additional $41 million in scholarships for high-demand majors in science, technology, engineering, math and health care (Opportunity Scholarship). Additional investments are made in computer science and engineering programs at UW and WSU.
This new budget also includes historic investments in early learning while boosting all-day kindergarten and strengthens our underfunded mental health system.
While the transportation and capital budgets are not quite final, with the House and Senate needing to take a few votes on bond bills, Kilduff said she’s confident those budgets will get finished and head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
As for the revenue package to pay for transportation, Kilduff said she voted no because the funding mechanism for transportation – mostly a gas tax – hits working people too hard and isn’t sustainable as a way to keep our highways, ferries and mass transit running.
“The gas tax is unfair and obsolete,” Kilduff said. “It hurts average families the most, and if you look at history, gas tax revenues aren’t a smart way to fund transportation. Cars are getting better and better mileage, and hybrid and electric cars mean the downward trend for gas tax revenue will only accelerate. We need projects in the transportation plan to fix traffic gridlock, yet we also need a better way to fund transportation so working families don’t get hurt the most.”