Friends and neighbors,
We've passed an operating budget and it's on its way to the governor's desk. The governor says he plans to sign it before midnight. We've avoided a shutdown.
I'm thankful I was able to play a role in passing a thoughtful budget. I'm disappointed, however, in how close we came to the reality of a government shutdown, and in the short amount of time the public had to review and comment on the budget before it was considered. I will be spending part of my time after session working on creative solutions to avoid this last-minute brinksmanship in the future.
The good news is that we now have an operating budget that fully funds K-12 education.
When I ran for office, I proposed spending two-thirds of every new dollar in Washington state on K-12 education. I'm thrilled to report that's very nearly the strategy that was adopted in the budget this evening.
House Bill 2242, the McCleary fix, will send $6 billion of new funding to schools over the next four years. It will help the most impoverished school districts in our state by lowering their local property taxes while significantly raising the per-student funding they receive. Teacher pay will increase, especially for new teachers. The gap between how well rich and poor students do — which is far too wide today — should begin to narrow.
The success of Washington students is a direct result of the teachers at the front of the classroom. Under House Bill 2242, annual automatic COLAs will keep teacher salaries in pace with inflation.
House Bill 2242 is an example of what can be accomplished from true, bipartisan work. Compromises were made and middle ground was struck. As with any compromise bill, there are things to like and dislike. But on balance, negotiators constructed a system to both protect taxpayers and give every child in Washington equal access to a quality education. That is success in my view.
I'm proud of the budget that was passed tonight. I look forward to sharing more details with you this summer at events throughout East King County.
At the moment, I'm still on the House floor. I'm hopeful that we'll soon begin debating the capital budget. When the capital budget has passed, I'll be sure to let you know the projects in East King County that have received funding.
Please don't hesitate to call my office with questions. It has been a tremendous pleasure to represent you this year. I hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day.