From an unprecedented boost in support for K-12 education and the first college-tuition freeze in nearly three decades to a sustainable new state budget that was balanced without general tax increases, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus racked up a remarkable list of achievements in its first year.
Today several members of the Senate’s bipartisan majority reflected on the formation of their coalition, which was announced on Dec. 10, 2012. They highlighted breakthroughs made earlier this year and noted how their approach to governing is continuing to put Washington families and employers first.
“In Washington, D.C. they continue to bicker and plod along, while our bipartisan coalition now moves into a second year of working cooperatively,” said Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue. “We’ve become the voice of reason when it comes to jobs, education and the budget, including the discussions going on right now about a new list of transportation projects and how to keep and attract aerospace work.”
“On day one our coalition made clear commitments to make jobs, education and the budget our top priorities. We needed to provide more for basic education and wanted to reverse the trend of ever-increasing college tuition, all while coming through with the tax relief promised by the previous majority. It was a tall order, and it’s clear a year later that our coalition delivered,” said Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville.
“There’s no question that our coalition is stronger today,” said Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, who chairs the MCC. “Not only are we up to 26 members following the November general election, including a record number of women, but now we can draw on this past year’s successes. I was confident that some great things would result from our coalition’s bipartisan approach, and they did; I’m looking forward to building on that in 2014, especially when it comes to our education system and promoting job growth.”
“Creating a world-class education system that prepares Washington students for college and careers is and will remain our coalition’s priority. We recognize that funding is essential: our budget invested an additional $1 billion into K-12, a major change from past years. How that money is spent and how classrooms operate is just as important for getting results. That’s why we also focused on policies based on best practices to improve Washington’s high-school graduation rate and close the opportunity gap. Combining funding and policy reforms is the only way we’ll be able to make progress that reconnects funding with student learning,” said Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island, who leads the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.
“The governor and the House majority were perfectly willing to go along with another round of tuition increases at our state-run colleges and universities. It was the Majority Coalition Caucus that stood up and said no, let’s end that trend after 27 years and give some relief to the middle-class families for whom tuition is like a tax,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Of all the good things our bipartisan majority accomplished in its first year, I see the tuition freeze as a defining moment – a sign to the people that we have our priorities straight and are looking out for their needs.”