Update from Olympia – May 12, 2015
Friends and Neighbors,
We are about halfway through a Special Session needed because the Legislature did not reach agreement on the two-year operating budget (2015-17). The biggest difference is that the Senate’s budget spends more on education and lives within our means, while the House and Governor want to spend about the same on education but want to create a new income tax on capital gains and a new tax on energy producers, universities and other emitters of carbon to pay for other government programs.
Education, Taxes, and Teacher Strikes
Specifically, the Senate budget proposal increases school funding by $2.7 billion over the two-year budget cycle including increases in teacher pay and benefits to the tune of $440 million. If the Senate’s budget is adopted, education spending will comprise 47 percent of the state’s budget, the highest percentage in over 30 years. Both the Democratic and Republican budgets allocate roughly $1.3 billion more to K-12 education and hire more teachers to reduce class sizes in grades K-3. The Senate budget also allocates funds to build 2,100 classrooms to accommodate the smaller class sizes. The House doesn’t.
Neither the House, the Senate, nor Gov. Inslee, propose budgets that fully fund the multi-billion dollar initiative, I-1351, that voters narrowly approved last fall to create smaller class sizes for all grades. All agree major tax increases would be necessary. And yet, teachers unions across the state plan one-day walkouts this month in protest. University Place has voted to go on strike May 20.
We will be discussing this, and other issues, in a telephone town hall tomorrow night
You’re invited to participate in our telephone town hall tomorrow night
Representative Dick Muri and I will be hosting a telephone town hall
Wednesday, May 13
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.