Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Ortiz-Self’s Legislative Update: Operating Budget

Dear neighbors,

As you may have heard, last week the state legislature finally passed a budget, which averted a government shutdown. This budget vote was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I came to Olympia with firsthand experience working in an underfunded school. I saw how we were treating our children. I came dedicated to finding the funding we needed to support our schools. A property tax increase that will undoubtedly hurt our middle class was never part of that vision.

The Senate Republicans held us hostage. They refused to truly negotiate until it was almost too late. We repeatedly came to the table with a handful of funding options and they came with one. They refused to budge on it.


House Democrats shifted from capital gains taxes to carbon taxes, to various other revenue options, and Senate Republicans kept leaving the table without moving away from property taxes. This tug of war continued day in and day out over the course of two special sessions. At last, after constant back-and-forthing, our negotiating team managed to bring them down from over $2 per thousand, to 82¢ per thousand dollars of valuation. The rest of the needed revenue to fund our schools will come from closing a few of the tax loopholes we had originally proposed.

We were caught between an awful property tax increase and a disastrous government shutdown with tragic consequences such as:

  • 32,000 state employees without a paycheck to pay their rents or mortgages, or feed their families
  • 50,000 seniors without meal assistance
  • 31,000 families without childcare
  • 2.2 million Washingtonians with adverse effects to their health insurance

A government shutdown that would have left so many of the most vulnerable people in our state without the crucial support they need was simply unacceptable. So I, along with many of my colleagues, took the hard vote to pass the budget and avoid that bleak shutdown scenario.


But I am proud that we passed a budget with no cuts to any of our state’s safety net and the largest investment in education in our state’s history.

Here are some of the budget highlights:

  • $7.3 billion in new funding for K-12 education, keeping our promise to 1.1 million schoolchildren by investing in teacher salaries, professional development, paraeducators, class size reductions, learning assistance, special education, bilingual instruction, and low performing schools.
  • Expand early childhood education slots for low-income families across the state.
  • Boost in funding for the State Need Grant so students can get the financial aid they need to pursue their dreams.
  • More funding in mental health, public health, and acceptance of federal Medicaid funding to fight the opioid crisis, reduce homelessness rates, and integrate physical and behavioral health.
  • Providing high-quality care to our aging population and people with disabilities.
  • Increased funding for assistance programs to keep youth and families off the streets and for state food and temporary assistance to families in need.
  • Fully funding a new department to reform our foster care system and improving social worker workloads.
  • Paying state workers a fair wage, so we can compete for a high-quality workforce that serves the public.

While this budget does reflect our core democratic values and makes really important and necessary investments, I hope you understand it was still a very difficult vote for me. I know how hard those property taxes will hit many of us and I want you to know I do not see this issue as finished. This budget is a foundation budget and I will continue to work toward a more progressive tax system for our state in the future. In the end, I voted to support our students and our social services. Now the work towards a more progressive tax system continues.

We passed the budget last week but are still in session working on several pending issues. Since we are not in Olympia every day, if there’s something in your mind that you’d like to discuss, or you just want to meet for coffee, feel free to contact my district office at 206-708-6559.

Best regards,

Ortiz-Self sig