At the halfway point of the legislative special session, the silence from Olympia has been noticeable. As members of the House of Representatives, we are frustrated that there has been little movement toward a budget solution.
The only purpose of this special session should be passage of responsible budgets that improve funding for education, transportation, and provide family-wage jobs. We do not need to be held hostage by a series of so-called reform bills demanded by Senate Republicans. It is time to act on the operating, capital and transportation revenue packages.
The House passed a responsible operating budget and the revenues necessary to implement that budget. It is time to address budget issues, pass them and go home.
We are all in this together. We know neither the House nor the Senate will get everything it wants. That is where the art of compromise comes in. The only way to get to solutions is for both sides to negotiate in good faith. And so far, we have seen little action from the Senate Republicans in this area.
We need a balanced solution for our schools. Let’s face it, the McCleary decision on K-12 funding was a game-changer. We are under court order and have the moral obligation to meet our paramount duty to fund education. At the same time, we can’t cut the safety net in order to fund schools; hungry or sick children can’t learn, no matter how good their schools are.
Our children are a higher priority than continuing to hang on to outdated tax exemptions. We support and voted for legislation closing a number of these outdated exemptions and directing these funds to support of our schools. We choose to support our schools over outdated tax breaks.
Addressing the Supreme Court’s Bracken decision is another prime example of putting education funding above special interests. Rather than returning $160 million to 250 wealthy families, we again choose education over more money for the top one percent of our wealthy residents.
Washington is not a tea party state, and we should not let tea party politics set the priorities for the state of Washington.