The state Legislature began its “special” session on April 29. Unfortunately, we were unable to get all our business done – including passing a two-year state operating budget – by the end of the regular session on April 26. So the work of the Legislature to resolve the remaining issues, and my work helping to negotiate the capital budget and other public policy efforts, continues.
Many of my colleagues and I believe we could have approved an operating budget in the 105 days allotted to us for the regular session. But there are significant differences between the two sides on taxes, so more time is required for negotiations.
In brief, the majority party in the House proposes $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes. In the Senate budget, there are no new taxes. However, the majority party in the House has not voted on the tax bills needed to fund the budget they passed. It's unfortunately a budget that spends more than current revenue, making promises and new obligations without the funding.
You may remember the state will take in an additional $3 billion in tax revenues over the next two years, thanks to the recovering economy. That is adequate to fund the state's current obligation as well as to make our way toward fully funding K-12 education, as our state constitution requires.
Here in the Legislature we have many thoughtful members who may hold differing political viewpoints, but who share a common goal of acting in the best interests of our students and our state. It is my hope all sides can sit down, engage in productive negotiations, and produce a responsible, sustainable budget.
I've provided an update on the education funding negotiations underway to those who have contacted my office with their specific education concerns. If you are interested in more detailed information on K-12 education funding, please click here.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with your questions, concerns and ideas. At this time, I am traveling back and forth to Olympia for meetings, negotiations and scheduled floor votes. If I am in-district, I would be happy to speak to your organization or meet with you in-person.
Thank you for your time. It is an honor to serve you.