To the Editor:
I'm happy to report that Sunday (June 30) I was able to sign a new operating budget for the state of Washington and avert a partial government shutdown.
It is unfortunate it took this long to reach a budget agreement, but I am pleased that we delivered on many of the key principles you and I fought for during my campaign.
We made our budget priorities clear: funding education, protecting vital services, and closing tax loopholes. We didn't get everything we wanted -- that's the nature of negotiation. But, we stayed strong, and I am pleased that we were able to pass a budget that delivers $1 billion in education funding and protects vital programs for Washington's kids and seniors.
The budget I signed Sunday is a down payment on our commitment to fulfilling our legal and moral duty to fund education for our children -- but it is clearly only the beginning.
What this budget is not is a vehicle for irresponsible, bad policy -- like devastating cuts to essential services for our most vulnerable neighbors, or dramatic anti-labor, anti-environment, and anti-consumer policy initiatives.
Along with these key wins on the budget, I'm pleased that the Medicaid expansion made possible by Obamacare is going to increase access for Washingtonians and create jobs.
Unfortunately, it's also clear we have a lot of work to do.
I am disappointed we were not able to reach an agreement with senate Republicans to close a number of unnecessary tax loopholes. This year's improved revenue forecast helped us meet our short-term goals, and made clear that we did need to find new revenue, but I remain committed to securing a long-term education funding strategy by fixing these loopholes in upcoming sessions.
I'm also disappointed that senate Republicans refused to bring to a vote to pass a much-needed transportation package.
Our transportation infrastructure is the lifeblood of our economy, and continuing to ignore it is not an option.
But today I want to thank you again for standing by us and keeping up the fight for the working Washington we're building together.