The Washington State Legislature passed a supplemental operating budget Thursday that increases spending on K-12 education by $58 million, but skips any tax break closures that Democrats hoped to pass this year.
The House passed the budget 85-13, with 13 Republicans voting against it. The Senate passed the budget 48-1, with Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, voting against it.
The supplemental budget spends about $155 million overall, including the $58 million for school books and supplies, $23 million in early learning and childcare, $20 million in mental health and $5.4 million for increased prison capacity.
Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, called the budget it a “bipartisan victory,” and praised it for freezing tuition. “I think college students all across Washington state should celebrate today because for the second year in a row because they are not going to have a tuition increases,” he said.
Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, said that her constituents encouraged her to reject the budget because it was not progressive enough. She voted in favor of it. “It’s not perfect,” Chase said. “But it’s not that bad.”
Liias voted against the budget because it did not include the continuation of tax incentives that benefits technology companies.
“Any budget is a tough decision it’s a balancing act,” Liias said. “I’m disappointed that our budget couldn’t reach agreement on two important investments in our innovation sector.”
Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, also shared the same concern, though she supported the budget.
“I think it was a huge missed opportunity that we are not extending those data center incentives,” she said.
Over in the House, Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, also objected to the lack of the technology tax breaks and voted against the bill. Communities in his district have had new jobs because of them, he said.
“We had a city that was a dusty little town and now it’s coming along,” he said. “There’s a lot of other happy states out there, because they’ll be happy to have those server farms.”
But Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, urged support of the budget.
“People in my community want a chance to catch their breath and to begin to rebuild after the past few years,” Chandler said. “What they continually tell me is that they want a legislature and a state government that will allow them stability predictability and sustainability.
“It won’t make everyone happy, as all budgets are, even our household budgets,” he said. (more…)