April 1, 2015
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Friday, Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their 2015-2017 budget. To start the budget conversation it’s important to understand that we have $3 billion more in revenue coming to the state. The House budget proposal adds an additional $5 billion to the state budget. In contrast, in the Senate we believe the state can live within its means, prioritize education and provide vital services for the most vulnerable.
House budget raises taxes and increases spending by 15%
The House budget proposal increases government spending by 15 percent and, despite the fact we will have $3 billion more in revenue, raises taxes by over $1.5 billion!
It is a myth that we have to raise taxes to fully fund education. We can make the needed investments in education, mental health and other critical state services with existing funds. Our economy remains fragile in many parts of the state. The last thing we should do is raise taxes on small businesses and families.
Senate unveils no new taxes budget that invests in Washingtonians
Yesterday, we in the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus delivered a “no new taxes" budget that makes education the top priority and delivers tax relief and college affordability to families across Washington.
For years, the state has failed to make education spending a priority, spending 2:1 on general government against education. In the Senate's budget, we would spend 3:1 on education, which is the largest investment in K-12, ever. Since the Majority Coalition began governing in the Senate, per student funding has increased by nearly 33 percent. We are making targeted investments where evidence shows it makes a difference, such as reducing K-3 class sizes and substantial capital investments to build 2,200 new classrooms across the state.
The Senate budget includes cost of living adjustments for teachers and reduces college tuition by an average of 25 percent over the news two years. This is the first time tuition has been reduced in decades. For example, tuition at the University of Washington would be slashed from almost $11,000 per year to $7,500 per year.
The Senate's budget also protects our state's most vulnerable with over $70 million going to provide more beds and critical treatment for the mentally ill. It expands respite care and employment services for the developmentally disabled. We are also looking out for our seniors by increasing the senior citizen property tax exemption for the first time in a decade.
The Senate's budget also makes important changes to improve public safety. This includes cracking down on drunk driving by making a fourth DUI a felony and greater accountability for property criminals to reduce recidivism.
Citizen's guide to the budget
Washington budgets on two-year cycles, known as a biennial budget. The Senate Ways & Means committee put together a great resource that looks at where the revenue for our state's budget comes from and how it is spent. You can click here to read the whole publication. Below are charts that explain revenue and expenditures from our last budget cycle that was adopted in 2013.
It is an honor to represent you as your state Senator. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (360)786-7654 if I can be of service to you or your family on those issues that impact you and our community.
28th District Senator
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
- Sir Winston Churchill