OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign a $38.2 billion two-year state operating budget that cuts tuition for college students and puts more money toward the state's K-12 education system.
Inslee is set to sign the plan Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the end of the current two-year fiscal cycle. Lawmakers moved swiftly to pass the budget Monday night in order to avoid a partial government shutdown that would have started Wednesday.
The House passed the budget plan on a 90-8 vote, just hours after the Senate passed it on a 38-10 vote. The House is also expected to take a vote Tuesday on a $16.1 billion transportation revenue bill that includes an 11.9 cent incremental increase in the gas tax. Lawmakers are also expected to pass a construction budget.
In a statement Monday night, Inslee said, “Legislators tonight approved a great budget for Washington state. It makes the investments we need to move the state forward and follows spending priorities I set out when the Legislature convened in January.
“This budget allows us to take a big step toward meeting our obligation to K-12 education, including all-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes in lower grades and a teacher mentoring program. We fully funded collective bargaining agreements to give state workers a raise and funded long overdue cost-of-living adjustments for teachers. We boosted programs that care for people with mental illness and added caseworkers who protect vulnerable children…
“My staff will immediately begin a careful review of the budget, and we plan to take action on it tomorrow afternoon,” Inslee said.
The Washington Education Association issued a statement saying that it was not happy with the budget. It contends the measure “cuts teacher pay, increases class sizes for most students and fails to fully fund K-12 public schools as required by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.”
Thousands of state workers have already received notice that they would be furloughed starting Wednesday, July 1, if a budget wasn’t adopted in time.
Full details of the budget were released publicly Monday afternoon. The bipartisan agreement spends an estimated $1.3 billion on K-12 basic education, and it phases in tuition cuts at the state’s universities, as well as community and technical colleges.
Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, issued the following statement Monday evening after the Washington Senate voted for an unprecedented college-tuition rollback in the final agreement on a 2015-17 operating budget:
“The big winners in this state budget agreement are college students and their families … We will reduce tuition 5 percent across the board this fall, and we will further reduce it in 2016, for a total 15 percent reduction at UW and WSU and a total 20 percent at Eastern, Western, Central and Evergreen.”Tuition rollbacks enacted by Legislature in operating budget, SB 5954
|Current Yr 14-15||Yr 15-16 Savings||Year 16-17 Savings|
|Community and technical colleges||$3,217||$160.85||N/A|