Members of leadership and the Senate Democratic budget negotiating team issued the statement below following the announcement of a deal on the 2014 supplemental operating budget Thursday:
Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam:
“I said it from the beginning: this budget was not going to contain any cuts to our safety net. I am pleased that we have come together to pass a budget that accomplishes just that.
“Not only did we prevent cuts, we actually were able to add some money that will strengthen mental health services.
“This supplemental budget has my full support but it should also be considered a launching pad for further budget next year and beyond.”
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island:
“When you factor in every aspect – no new tax breaks, strengthened protections for our environment and our most vulnerable citizens, huge new investments in mental health programs and nearly $60 million more in K-12 funding – all improvements over the original Senate proposal – this is a strong Democratic budget that protects and advances our core values.
“While I am proud of the work that went into this budget and its components, I believe that the hardest work is still ahead of us as we must significantly increase education funding.”
“Sens. Hargrove and Ranker worked to put together a budget that more than represents Democratic values – it is very nearly a Democratic budget.
“While we are pleased with the final product, there is no question we have a staggeringly large bill coming due for K-12 funding in our state in just a few short years. If we are to meet our constitutional obligation to our kids – and meet it responsibly – new revenue and dedicated funding sources must be part of the conversation next year.
“Most estimates are that we’ll need to invest at least $5 billion more in K-12 education by 2018. We simply cannot do that by raiding funding from other programs that also exist to indirectly help children and families.
“Tough decisions await us all next year.”