Senate budget fully funds education, cuts tuition without raising taxes
Students, teachers and parents would see significant funding increases for the state’s public schools while in-state tuition would be reduced for the first time since at least the 1970’s without raising taxes under Senator Andy Hill’s budget proposal released Tuesday.
“We crafted this budget to prioritize education, protect our most vulnerable citizens and live within the state’s means,”said Hill,
of Redmond, who has served as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee since 2013. “When Washington taxpayers see the state is taking in an additional $3 billion under the existing tax system, they believe that’s enough for us to provide the services residents want and deserve.”
Almost 80 percent of the revenue growth is dedicated to education including: an additional $1.3 billion to K-12 addressing the McCleary decision; funding for an average 25 percent tuition reduction at state colleges and universities by 2017; and almost $100 million to expand high quality early learning opportunities.
“Preparing students for success in college and in life starts by improving our 77 percent high school graduation rate and persistent opportunity gap,” said Hill. “If at-risk students can enter kindergarten better prepared through early learning programs, research shows they have a higher chance of graduating high school. It’s just as important that we make college accessible given the changing demands of the job market. This budget invests in a 21st-century education system.”
The plan also includes more than $70 million in additional support for mental health programs, protects funding for individuals with developmental disabilities, enhances protections for senior citizens, and makes Washington’s roads safer by reducing the number of DUI’s before an individual can be charged with a felony.
“Despite a consistent call for new taxes from the House of Representatives and governor, it’s clear that we can fulfill our priorities, make significant investments in important programs, and do so without taking more money out of taxpayer’s pockets,” continued Hill.
The 2015-17 operating budget proposal is scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday, March 31, at 3:30 p.m. and can be viewed live on TVW at www.TVW.org.