Friends and Neighbors,
First, it is important to me that you know we have averted a government shutdown. The 2017-19 operating budget has passed the legislature and the governor has said he will sign it before midnight. I'm relieved that our most vulnerable citizens, children, and working families will avoid the significant harm that would have resulted had a shutdown become a reality.
With that said, the operating budget that has passed is less than ideal. Given the recent revenue increases reported by the Washington Revenue Forecast, I was confident we could solve McCleary, fund education, and balance the budget within existing revenues. Unfortunately, the new budget not only relies on new taxes but also reduces or eliminates revenues that were promised to local governments.
I fear our local governments will face tough decisions in the coming years as a result of this budget. Cuts to services or local tax increases are all more likely when promised funds from the state are rescinded.
For these reasons, I was not able to support the budget today in the form it was presented to me. The late hour in which it was finalized also prevented me from offering significant and substantial amendments. Nevertheless, the budget did pass.
The good news of this budget is that K-12 education is fully funded and the requirements of McCleary will finally be met. Under this new budget, equal access to a quality education will increase for all children in Washington, and thorough reporting mechanisms will provide transparency and fiscal accountability.
While I remain concerned about the fiscal impacts of our new budget, I'll celebrate the opportunities Washington students will now have.
At this time, I'm currently still on the House floor awaiting a negotiation of the capital budget. I'll update you with the local projects that have received funding once the capital budget has passed.
Thank you again for your emails and questions throughout the 2017 session. It has truly been a pleasure to once again represent you in Olympia.