Washington State House Democrats


Investing in Washington

Last week, the House and Senate voted to pass a budget to move forward on many of the state’s most pressing needs. Although it took a few weeks of special session to reach an agreement and finish the legislative session, this budget moves us forward without compromising our values.

The budget we passed gets us a little closer to a Washington that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

House Democrats had four major priorities in our original budget proposal:

  • Address the teacher shortage
  • Continue critical investments in state and community mental health
  • Help homeless families, kids, and veterans get into stable housing.
  • Improve the lives of foster kids.

This budget makes key investments in each of these areas.

It’s not everything we wanted, of course. That’s the reality of a divided government – the only path forward is through compromise.

But it is a path forward. And it sets the stage for the challenges ahead next session when the Legislature must adopt a solution to end the state’s reliance on local levies and fully fund basic education.

Highlights from the budget include:

  • Fully funding education requires solving our teacher shortage crisis and ensuring a quality teacher in every classroom. This budget will improve teacher recruitment and retention through investments in mentoring programs for new educators and increased training for paraeducators.
  • Every child in Washington state is guaranteed the right to an equitable education under our state constitution. Right now, we are not delivering on this promise. Closing the opportunity gap is the single most important step we can take to ensure that every student has a meaningful opportunity to learn. We passed a bill with the policy needed to close the educational opportunity gap and are funding it in this budget so that all students have an opportunity to be successful.
  • People facing mental health crisis and their families are trying to navigate a broken system with inadequate resources. Patients and staff are unsafe in underfunded mental health facilities. We have increased investments in mental health services including additional state hospital staff, mobile crisis teams, and crisis triage beds.
  • Everyone should have a safe place to sleep at night, but all across the state, the homeless population is rising. It’s not just adults who are homeless, over 35,500 students in Washington are homeless. We address the growing homelessness crisis in Washington state by investing in more emergency residential services and beds throughout the state; providing more resources to local governments to help more homeless people transition into permanent housing; and investing in programs that prevent youth homelessness.
  • The foster care system is being squeezed on both sides – there are less foster families available, and, in part due to the heroin epidemic, there are more children in need of placement. We are improving the lives of foster kids through increased investments in child placement agencies, performance contracting, and caseload reduction.
  • Over the last few years, the legislature has worked to improve access to high-quality early learning for all kids. Early learning is one of the best investments we can make in our children’s future. This budget supports wage increases for some of the lowest paid early learning and family child care workers.

A budget is a statement of our values. It isn’t enough to stand up for policies that support our kids and families, we also need to stand up for funding these policies. The budget we passed gets us a little closer to a Washington that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.