Legislature approves $38 billion, two-year budget bill that increases K-12 spending, cuts college tuition
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Two days before a government shutdown would take effect, the Washington Legislature on Monday night approved a $38.2 billion two-year state operating budget.
The House passed the plan on a 90-8 vote Monday night just hours after the Senate passed it on a 38-10 vote. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
The Legislature is in the midst of a third overtime session.
A new two-year budget must be signed by Inslee by midnight Tuesday to prevent dozens of state agencies and other offices from closing completely or partially.
In a statement Monday night, Inslee said, “Legislators tonight approved a great budget for Washington state. It makes the investments we need to move the state forward and follows spending priorities I set out when the Legislature convened in January.
“This budget allows us to take a big step toward meeting our obligation to K-12 education, including all-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes in lower grades and a teacher mentoring program. We fully funded collective bargaining agreements to give state workers a raise and funded long overdue cost-of-living adjustments for teachers. We boosted programs that care for people with mental illness and added caseworkers who protect vulnerable children…
“My staff will immediately begin a careful review of the budget, and we plan to take action on it tomorrow afternoon,” Inslee said.
The Washington Education Association issued a statement saying that it was not happy with the budget. It contends the measure “cuts teacher pay, increases class sizes for most students and fails to fully fund K-12 public schools as required by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.”
Thousands of state workers have already received notice that they would be furloughed starting Wednesday, July 1, if a budget wasn’t adopted in time.
Full details of the budget were released publicly Monday afternoon. The bipartisan agreement spends an estimated $1.3 billion on K-12 basic education, and it phases in tuition cuts at the state’s universities, as well as community and technical colleges.
Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, issued the following statement Monday evening after the Washington Senate voted for an unprecedented college-tuition rollback in the final agreement on a 2015-17 operating budget:
“The big winners in this state budget agreement are college students and their families … We will reduce tuition 5 percent across the board this fall, and we will further reduce it in 2016, for a total 15 percent reduction at UW and WSU and a total 20 percent at Eastern, Western, Central and Evergreen.”Tuition rollbacks enacted by Legislature in operating budget, SB 5954
|Current Yr 14-15||Yr 15-16 Savings||Year 16-17 Savings|
|Community and technical colleges||$3,217||$160.85||N/A|