Senate’s budget a stark contrast to the version released by the House

Senate’s budget a stark contrast to the version released by the House

Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Our state is fortunate that the fragile economic recovery has resulted in increased revenue coming to the state. We are projected to have $3 billion more in revenue for this budget cycle than the last.

The Senate unveiled a no-new-taxes budget that makes wise use of the considerable resources available. This is in stark contrast to the increased spending proposed by the House, which raises taxes by $1.5 billion in the first budget cycle alone and relies on volatile tax schemes.

The House majority’s appetite for your hard-earned tax dollars seems to be endless. At some point we must ask, “When is it enough?” A family or small business would be thrilled with an 8 percent increase in their income and that is the situation our state faces, without raising taxes.

Now is not the time to increase state spending with more taxes when areas outside of Seattle have yet to see a full economic recovery. Rather, our state should be focusing on providing meaningful economic and educational opportunities.

The Senate majority is committed to sustainable and responsible spending. We prioritize our budget to fund education first and to reverse decades’ long trends by prioritizing general government spending. We invest more than $70 million in our state’s mental health system and provide tax relief for small businesses and senior citizens, without raising taxes.

The Senate’s budget proposal also includes a significant change to how our state funds higher education.

For 30 years, state government spending has not focused on the needs and priorities of the people of our state. The well intentioned policies of those in control in Olympia for the past 30 years have not yielded the kind of results you should expect.

The latest proposal from the House continues that trend. Educating our students is still not a priority in the House budget proposal unless another tax is implemented to pay for it, inflating state spending by 15 percent.

In contrast, the Senate’s proposal makes funding education a priority by putting an additional $1.3 billion toward our K-12 system.

In addition to representing my constituents in Olympia, I am working on behalf of all families and students struggling to pay for the rising costs of college tuition. Since the majority coalition took control of the Senate in 2013, we made access to an affordable and quality education a priority. We did that again in our current budget proposal, which includes a policy that reduces tuition by an average of 25 percent.

Working class families who don’t make enough to afford tuition but make too much to receive any support have been priced out of a college education unless they incur significant debt.

That is unacceptable.

I am working hard to ensure that our state adopts common sense policies that put your interests ahead of paid special interests. I am fighting for access to water for our neighbors in the Skagit River Basin, to make needed investments in transportation, to make sure our senior citizens have property tax relief and that other vital services are delivered efficiently and effectively.

With just a few weeks left in this legislative session, we still have much to accomplish.

However, my work on the budget will reflect what I’ve heard from you: That our state should live within its means. With 8 percent more revenue, there is no reason that we must turn to taxpayers and take more money.

Instead lawmakers should consider the significant growth as more than enough to fund the real priorities of state government.