2016 Session Review

The 2016 Legislature adjourned for the year following a brief special session to complete an update of our two-year state budget.

The House originally proposed a large tax increase and spending down emergency reserves, but the Senate urged a different approach. The result: a bipartisan supplemental budget that provides strategic investments in mental health treatment, increases protections for people with developmental disabilities, and sustains our historic tuition cuts at state colleges and universities.

As in every year I’ve been in the Senate, these investments were all done without raising your taxes or raiding emergency reserves.

A final comment about education: over the last three years — the period I have been in the Senate — the Legislature has reversed a 30-year trend of underfunding education. Since 2013, 3 of every 4 dollars in new spending has gone toward early learning, K-12 and higher education. By 2017, we will have added $4.5 billion to K-12 education in four years. During the 30 years prior to 2013, only 1 of every 3 new dollars went to education.

We are finally on the right track. Class sizes are smaller in kindergarten through third grade, teachers have received pay and benefit increases, and the state is covering far more of the costs of educating every student.