Senate passes historic budget that includes no new taxes, cuts tuition and invests in basic education

Senate Resolution 8663, Honoring the 25th anniversary of certain UW and WSU campuses, April 13, 2015.The new two-year operating budget package approved by the Senate Monday evening includes legislation sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey to reduce college tuition at state-run institutions by as much as 20 percent. Bailey’s measure also caps future tuition increases according to a percentage of the state’s median wage.

“This is a win for working students and families,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “This policy will make lasting changes to how we fund higher education, in ways that put students first. We have crafted a solid, bipartisan proposal that will make college more affordable and accessible for all students in our state.”

Bailey, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, was instrumental in the Senate Majority Coalition’s successful effort to freeze in-state college tuition for 2013-15 — the first time in more than 30 years that tuition costs at state-run schools did not increase in consecutive academic years. She has focused her efforts as committee chair on increasing college access and affordability.

“Since we began the 2015 legislative session it was clear our state has enough resources to fund the real priorities of state government,” said Bailey. “I am pleased that we put education first and protected our citizens from unnecessary new taxes. We’ve crafted a budget that works for all our citizens. This is a budget of which we can be proud because it puts people ahead of politics and makes working families a priority.”

The budget, approved 38-10 by the Senate and 90-8, includes historic investments in basic education, preservation of state parks, needed resources for the state’s mental-health system, job creation measures, and tax relief for seniors and disabled community, in addition to many other policy areas.

“Our budget makes people a priority,” said Bailey. “It includes small business tax incentives for hiring veterans, providing property tax relief for 100,000 seniors, and allocating $100 million more toward mental health.”