Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After many days in both regular and special legislative sessions, I am pleased to share with you that I have voted for and lawmakers have approved an operating budget for the 2013-2015 biennium. This $33.6 billion package will guide state spending for the next two fiscal years. As with any negotiated budget, there are aspects that both parties like and dislike. To me, this means that lawmakers have achieved real bipartisan compromise.
The operating budget (Senate Bill 5034) takes many steps to move our state forward and is a significant improvement over previous budget proposals. As you know, the legislature was confronted with a budget deficit of approximately $1 billion. We also faced a Supreme Court decision related to K-12 education estimated to cost an additional $1 billion. In the end, the $33.6 billion operating budget approved by the legislature resolves both these challenges and maintains a respectable amount in reserves.
The legislature's approval of the 2013-2015 operating budget:
Averts a government shutdown by meeting the June 30 fiscal year deadline.
There will be no lapse in services as the next biennium begins July 1, 2013.
Keeps the state's promise not to extend the Business and Occupation tax.
The “temporary” tax increases approved in the past are now removed from the budget.
Invests an additional $1 billion into K-12 education for the McCleary decision.
Directs additional funds for school operating costs, learning assistance, transportation, reduced class sizes, increased instructional hours, and all-day kindergarten.
Avoids tuition increases at our state's higher education facilities and increases funding.
Students and families will benefit from this stability in tuition costs. Nearly $200 million is invested in additional funding, financial aid and student achievement support.
Addresses two unresolved court issues involving estate taxes and telecommunications.
Clarifies the estate tax statute related to trust accounts and implements telecommunications reforms to avoid potential state lawsuits.
Dedicates extra revenue from the recent forecast into the state's reserve account.
The budget preserves $630 million in projected reserves for the two-year period.
Protects our most vulnerable citizens.
Provides increased funding for home care workers, adult dental needs and mental health services.
The senate approved this budget by a vote of 44 to 4, and the House approved it by a vote of 81 to 11.
If you would like more detailed information on the operating budget, please click here.
The passage of this budget represents the culmination of many months of hard work. While this effort took much longer than I had anticipated or preferred, I am pleased with the outcome. Many of you voiced your thoughts, ideas and concerns in recent months and weeks. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to communicate and help me best represent you here in Olympia.
Thank you for your continued support!
122G Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7832 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000