Late Tuesday evening the Legislature approved a supplemental budget after negotiations dragged on into a special session. Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, voted in favor of the bipartisan proposal that makes minor adjustments to the state’s two-year operating budget approved last year.
“I am pleased that we have reached a responsible bipartisan budget agreement,” Bailey said. “Although this budget does increase spending in certain areas, we must address the emergent needs in our state and follow through on our commitments.”
The 2016 supplemental budget restrains state spending and meets the state’s 4-year balanced budget requirements. This is in contrast to the proposal from House Democrats that sought to raid the state’s emergency reserves to pay for new state programs, cut nearly $500 million from K-3 class-size reductions and raise taxes.
“This is a supplemental budget and I’m glad that our House counterparts realized that this isn’t the time to commit our state to billions more in spending,” said Bailey. “The two-year operating budget that we adopted last year made historic investments in basic education, in our state’s colleges and universities and mental-health services. It put Washington back on the right track. If we had adopted some of the budget gimmicks that the House had wanted, all that work would have been undone.”
This year marks the second year of the phased-in tuition reduction approved at the insistence of Senate Republicans. The supplemental budget maintains investments in state colleges and universities to backfill for lost tuition revenue.
“We made a commitment to the working families and students in our state,” said Bailey, one of the architects of the state’s tuition-reduction policy (the College Affordability Program). “Negotiators knew going into this that we needed to keep our higher education institutions whole, continue to support our K-12 students and ensure families have access to mental-health services. This budget maintains that progress and I’m proud of the results.”
The budget passed in the House of Representatives 78-17 and 27-17 in the Senate.
Budget documents are available online, here.