Earlier this week the Washington State Legislature adjourned after members of the Senate and House of Representatives reached a strong bipartisan agreement on an update to the state’s existing budget.
I am pleased that the sustainable plan respects our four-year balanced budget requirement which has been one of the most important reforms in a generation for fiscal responsibility. The final bipartisan plan is a true supplemental budget that addresses our state’s needs and respects taxpayers.
By being prudent when updating the next year of state government spending, we will be in a better position come 2017 to continue making significant improvements in our education system.
It’s important to remember that we operate on two-year budget cycles meaning the work we did last year remains in place from mid-2015 through mid-2017. The supplemental budget is not a place to do a major overhaul of the work that received incredible bipartisan support just last year.
The 2016 supplemental budget increases state spending by $190 million in the context of a $38+ billion budget. It addresses mental health treatment and care, homelessness, pays for the costs of 2015’s wildfires and maintains our historic tuition cuts at state colleges and universities.
One of the smaller items in total dollars – but incredibly important investments – is $1.7 million in professional development for paraeducators who provide more than 50 percent of classroom instruction to special needs students. This will help the state better prepare and retain a key component needed to educate all Washington students.