OLYMPIA – The “Families First” budget passed by House Democrats on Friday, March 31, includes critical investments in programs and services that benefit the children and families of Washington state.
“We are keeping our promise to Washington’s 1.1 million school kids,” said Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island). “This budget fully funds education, while also recognizing issues of poverty and skyrocketing college tuition.”
The House Democratic budget fully funds basic education, with an investment of an additional $7.1 billion over the next four years. That investment would address the teacher shortage and compensation crisis, as well as provide funding to services that improve student success, such as the Learning Assistance Program, parent engagement coordinators and guidance counselors.
In addition to funding K-12 education, the House Democratic budget makes key investments in other programs and services for children, such as early learning and children’s mental health.
The House Democratic budget includes investments to expand the Early Childhood Education & Assistance Program (ECEAP), allowing 3,000 more low-income children to benefit from early learning. The newly proposed Department of Children, Youth and Families is also funded through the House Democratic budget. The department will focus on improving outcomes for kids, especially foster kids, by consolidating services and removing barriers that various silos of service delivery can create.
The House Democratic budget also expands children’s mental health care as a part of the overall investment in mental health.
In addition, the budget proposal provides support for young adults and their families by freezing tuition for all college students at community and 4-year colleges, making a significant investment in both computer science education, and expanding the State Need Grant program to 6,000 more low-income students.
“We have to start putting families first. Washington is falling behind as a national leader in education, economic development and exploring the 21st century economy. This budget puts us back on the right path,” said Senn.
Additional investments proposed in the House Democratic budget include funding for critical human services, housing and homelessness, civil legal aid, and quality care for Washington’s aging population and people with developmental disabilities.
In order to provide revenue to fund education appropriately while continuing to fund essential state programs, the House Democratic budget proposal includes a progressive revenue plan.
The revenue package enacts tax code reform, including closing the tax break on capital gains, with exemptions to protect retirement accounts and single-family homes. This capital gains tax would generally affect less than 2 percent of Washington tax filers.
Other provisions of the revenue plan include small business tax relief, which exempts 260,000 businesses from paying B&O taxes; changing the real estate tax to a progressive rate; ensuring marketplace fairness for Washington businesses; and closing costly and unnecessary tax breaks.