Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Around 1 a.m. in the morning on Saturday, the state Senate passed its version of the operating budget. The Senate budget is sustainable and prioritized. The budget was supported by a coalition of Republicans and three Democrats. The debate leading up to the vote on the budget, beginning on Friday afternoon and lasting late into the night, was historic. I commend our own Sen. Jim Kastama for his courage in standing with the coalition as the deciding vote. The Senate vote represents a break with the pattern of unsustainable budgeting that has characterized Olympia for years.
This sets the stage for the rest of the session, as well as a possible special session.
On Wednesday, the House passed its version of the budget, which was very different from the Senate version. Following my vote on the budget, I released this statement:
“This budget fails to prioritize government spending. It severely reduces or delays some of the core responsibilities of state government. I find three things about the budget especially objectionable.
1. This budget would delay more than $400 million in payments to school districts to the next biennium, placing a huge burden on future Legislatures and avoiding our paramount duty to fund education as our first priority.
2. This budget would make severe cuts to local governments, tasking cities and counties with finding new revenue and allowing local tax hikes.
3. This budget would make deep cuts to the most vulnerable, including programs for people with disabilities and mental illness. These cuts are simply unacceptable.
“I did support amendments to the budget that would have restored funding for mental health, seniors and people with disabilities. All of these amendments were rejected on the floor.
“I hope the final version of the budget is one that establishes clear priorities, lives within our means, and avoids burdening future Legislatures with the problems of today.”
The Senate vote last night raised my hopes. I look forward to a spirited and civil debate in the House of Representatives about the priorities of government.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000