Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been a frustrating six months, and I'm disappointed the Legislature took so long that we came close to the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2015). While I cannot defend the process or the time it took to pass the operating budget, I can stand behind the final outcome. We passed a truly bipartisan budget that Washingtonians can be proud of. Here are some highlights:
- Meets our state's four-year balanced budget requirement.
- Invests $1.3 billion in K-12 education, including expanding access to full-day kindergarten and reducing K-3 class sizes.
- Funds cost-of-living raises for teachers.
- Reduces the cost of tuition at our state's public four-year colleges and universities and two-year community colleges.
- Makes major investments in early learning.
- Makes new investments in our state's mental health system to address court-ordered changes.
- Does not include any major, broad-based tax increases. We were able to defeat a capital gains tax, a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade system, and an increase in the B&O tax.
- Renews important tax incentives, including for food processors.
The House will vote on a 2015-17 capital construction budget and a transportation tax package tomorrow. I will update you on these bills in my next e-newsletter.
I want to thank all of you who contacted me the last six months with your thoughts, questions and concerns, and who participated in my telephone town hall meeting. Your input helps me make informed decisions. It's an honor to represent you in the Legislature.