New two-year operating budget funds state priorities and holds the line on tax increases

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, highlights key features of the new two-year operating budget approved Friday and why it’s a good thing for 28th District residents:

“The important and really remarkable aspects of the budget are that we funded K-12 and higher education at unprecedented levels, without raising taxes, while maintaining the safety net for our most vulnerable. When this session began way back in January, the other party and the Governor insisted taxes must be raised by $1.4 billion to balance the budget. But we found a better way.

“The Majority Coalition in the Senate, of which I am a part, had the will to protect taxpayers and hold the line.

“The resounding message I received this year from constituents was that they do not want, nor could they afford any more tax increases. We proved that without raising taxes, we could still increase spending on education by over 11%, and for the first time since 1986, did not raise tuition a dime at our state’s colleges and universities. 

“Refusing to renew the B&O surcharge on beauticians, florists and other service providers, rejecting a new beer tax and tax on bottled water saves taxpayers $630 million over the next two years – money that is going to stay in taxpayers’ pockets. In addition, because of a $15.2 billion investment into our K-12 education system, our students will receive almost $1,000 more in per-pupil funding.

“Our Senate majority did what everyone said was impossible: we met the priorities of the state of Washington with a sustainable, balanced two-year budget that puts an additional $1 billion into basic education, restores adult Medicaid dental care, provides pay parity to workers carrying for the developmentally disabled and makes additional improvements to the social safety net.  In the end, the new budget was passed out of the Senate and House with substantial, bipartisan, support.”

The operating budget will go into effect Monday, July 1, the first day of the new two-year spending cycle.