Dear friends and neighbors,

After months of hard work and intense negotiations, we have finally passed an operating budget and solution to our K-12 funding crisis. In the end, our final product is the result of compromise. There are items in the budget that I agree with and items that are hard to swallow. This is the nature of compromise and the reality of governing in our split Legislature.

Faced with a state Supreme Court ruling that Washington was not adequately funding K-12 schools, the Legislature was tasked with coming up with a funding plan by the end of this session. In response, we passed a bill late Friday that will fully fund our schools primarily using a new statewide property tax.

Earlier this session, I argued for a K-12 funding solution that relied primarily on local control and keeping local tax dollars local. Even though the bill we passed tonight does not reflect my preference, it nevertheless sends a significant amount of additional funding to the school districts in our community and allows local districts to continue to pass levies for additional funds to support extracurricular programs. In fact, our school districts are in the top tier of funds allocated by the state.

I am also pleased with the policy and reforms embedded into the K-12 bill. It funds programs aimed at closing the opportunity gap and improves teacher compensation. It also creates a new school employee health care plan that is fully funded. As a result, teachers with children will be able to get coverage for their entire family without breaking the bank.

Even though I voted in support of the K-12 bill, I did not vote in favor of operating budget – the budget that pays for the day-to-day operations of the state. I strongly believe that it is not sustainable in the in the long run because it relies too deeply on accounting gimmicks. It also unwisely sweeps funding out of one of our state’s greatest job-creating and economic development program – the Public Works Trust Fund, which greatly benefits local communities throughout Washington state.

That said, our work in Olympia is not entirely done. We have yet to come to an agreement on the Capital Budget or a resolution to the Hirst water ruling. Stay tuned for more updates on our progress.

Thank you for your engagement,