Over the past year, I’ve shared with you my work on the Education Funding Task Force and as chair of the Finance Committee. My number one goal is to ensure we meet our obligation to fully fund education and keep that promise to Washington’s 1.1 million schoolchildren.
Despite all that work, it is clear an extra session is needed to complete that work. While making decisions about the state’s two-year budget is complicated, I am disappointed that Senate Republicans haven’t even made a good faith effort to begin negotiating so we could adjourn on time.
The budget is important and we want to make sure that our values are upheld. House Democrats are focused on the state’s paramount duty: passing a budget that fully funds our public schools.
How we pay for that is important. I believe it would be wrong to make seniors and families shoulder the burden with the Senate Republicans’ $5.5 billion property tax hike and massive cuts to state services.
Instead, my committee and I proposed reforms to make the tax system more fair. That includes much-needed B&O tax relief for nearly 300,000 small businesses while asking the wealthiest in our state to pay their fair share to fund schools.
Senate Republicans publicly and repeatedly said they won’t negotiate with me or other members of the budget team. That’s why we are nowhere near finished. House Democrats have repeatedly reached out and have been met with silence.
It’s our jobs as lawmakers to solve problems and reach compromises. That can only happen if all parties come to the table and work in good faith.
I want to get the job done for the 1.1 million kids in our public schools.
Update on the Hirst decision
Negotiations are still ongoing on possible legislation to resolve the Hirst decision that has halted construction for many families in our area. I truly believe that maintaining waterways doesn’t mean we can’t allow rural development. We can find a solution that both protects our environment and allows people to build on their property.
It is complicated and both the House and Senate have advanced various bills to solve the problem. Currently there is no agreed upon solution, but we are still working on it during special session and I’m confident we will have a bipartisan solution that passes before we adjourn for the year.