Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, issued the following statement today regarding the deal on the 2013-15 operating budget:
"Today's budget agreement averts a government shutdown and ensures that state services will continue uninterrupted.
“I want to thank Sen. Jim Hargrove and Sen. Sharon Nelson for working with Governor Inslee, House Democrats and Senate Republicans on finding the sweet spot between the previous Democratic and Republican budget proposals.
“The budget deal relies on federal health care reform dollars to extend coverage to 300,000 Washingtonians. It reaffirms and makes our estate tax an even more progressive funding source for education, while also providing the first significant new investment in our public schools since the Great Recession. It closes a tax loophole for telephone landline services, which not only brings more revenue in now but also avoids the possibility of a billion-dollar lawsuit down the road. It freezes tuition at our public colleges and universities for a year. And it keeps faith with the collective bargaining agreements for tens of thousands of state employees.
“All session long, Democrats have made the case for more revenue – not for revenue’s sake but to achieve two very clear outcomes. We wanted to avoid making damaging cuts to our social safety net, which would harm our vulnerable children, individuals with disabilities, women, veterans and seniors. And we wanted to provide a sustainable funding source to help us meet our long-term education funding obligations as spelled out by the McCleary decision.
“Fortunately, a higher-than expected revenue forecast allowed us to achieve the first outcome. But we still have much work to do to achieve the second outcome.
“The next two-year budget will require us to invest an additional billion-plus dollars into education, as will the budget after that, and the budget after that. We will not be able to continue cobbling together an additional billion dollars every two years using existing resources while also protecting our social safety net. This budget is a good first step toward McCleary, but we can’t forget that there are many more big steps to come that will require a significantly different revenue strategy than the one we see in this budget.”
To read Gov. Jay Inslee’s statement on the budget agreement, click here.
To read statements from House Democrats on the deal, click here.