The State Legislature came to an agreement on a $33.5 billion budget deal Thursday that avoided a state shutdown. Monday was the first day of the new budget cycle. The budget avoids any new major tax increases. There are many provisions with sizeable investments for education. Legislatures will next turn their attention to passing a capital budget and a transportation plan.
Senator Brian Hatfield (D-Raymond) released a statement Friday on the passage of the 2013-15 biennial budget.
“I am pleased that the Senate was able to finally come together and reach agreement on a budget that will fulfill so many obligations, all without raising taxes.
“Our top responsibility this session was to meet our constitutional obligation to fully fund education. The $1 billion investment made to satisfy the McCleary decision is a good first step toward that responsibility. From the beginning of the budget debates, we heard about the need for new revenue to fund our McCleary responsibilities. However, in a show of Washington’s resiliency, improvements in the revenue forecast have eliminated that need. I commend my colleagues for recognizing that fact and backing away from that demand.
“At the same time, I have been disheartened by the lack of cooperation that has raised the level of partisanship to heights I have never seen in Olympia. The process that created this budget took entirely too long and threatened our state with an unprecedented shutdown, and for what? In the end, what was gained by the rancor and blame games? Why did it take so long for all sides to come together and settle on a plan that could have been determined weeks ago?
“We were sent here to lead, not to draw lines in the sand and steer our ship to the edge of a cliff. That is not the way to govern. In the future, I look forward to creating new paths that will foster cooperation and collaboration. These are the true methods of successful government and the only way to drive our state forward.”
The Senate and House agreed to spend an additional $1 billion on education to better prepare Washington students to compete in a 21st century global economy. One education reform will focus on third grade reading. With the budget tuition rates at Washington’s universities will remain constant for at least the next two years.
Now legislatures will focus on whether light rail should be included on the Columbia River Crossing project.