Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, issued this statement after the Legislature approved a 2017-18 operating budget hours before state government would have had to shut down statewide.
“The citizens of this state have been waiting years for the Legislature to solve our education funding crisis. I worry every day about the kind of future we are creating for our children and grandchildren, and know providing a quality education is the single most important means of ensuring a better future for the next generation. To that end, this budget agreement meets the goal of amply funding the education of our children by investing an additional $7.3 billion over the next four years.
“That said, I am disappointed in the primary source of new funding, a property tax increase that will further increase housing costs at a time when too many in my district and across the state are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. I recognize that in this time of divided government the only way forward was through compromise and an acceptance of the fact that no one party or entity would achieve everything they wanted. In this case, Democrats basically got their way on funding education while Republicans got their way on what kinds of taxes would pay for it.
“Given the nature of competing interests in Olympia and across our state, this final agreement was the only viable solution in what was a very difficult legislative session. At the same time, unfortunately, it is a solution that is unfair and against the interests of my constituents, and for those reasons I had no choice but to vote against it.
“I remain committed to focusing my efforts on bringing back fairness and opportunity for all, by fighting to invest in and expand education, working to update our infrastructure while creating more jobs, and striving to boost social mobility for all of our citizens. We can deliver the funding our students and schools need, but we can do it in a more fair and evenhanded way, and those are my goals moving forward.”