A bipartisan 2014 Washington State supplemental budget proposal passed the State Senate by a vote of 41-8 on Thursday, but Legislative District 1 Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe said the proposal “would not make the meaningful progress towards fully funding education that I believe we need,” after casting a no vote on the plan.
The Senate’s $96 million supplement budget bill, SB 6002, includes $38 million in increased spending for education during the 2014-2015 school year, primarily in K-12 classroom technology and funding for college scholarships and grants. But for McAuliffe, member of the Senate’s Higher Education and Early Learning & K-12 Committees, the funding totals weren’t enough.
“It is our constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education,” McAuliffe said. “This was reinforced by the Supreme Court, who ordered us to fully fund basic education by 2018. We will need to invest $5 to 6 billion to fully fund basic education for our children in our public schools by 2018.”
McAuliffe proposed a $50 million amendment to the Senate legislation that would have raised salaries for state teachers, administrators and other education personnel, but failed to gain the votes necessary for passage.
A larger supplement budget proposal is being considered in the House of Representatives, a plan that McAuliffe hopes will gain traction. “I support the House’s approach, which closes unproductive tax loopholes to make a larger investment in education than the Senate budget proposal did,” McAuliffe asserted.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee chair, Senator Andy Hill, R-Redmond, said the Senate’s approved supplement budget plan prioritizes K-12 and higher education, meets the state’s four-year balanced budget requirement and keeps the state deficit free.
While debates over supplemental budgets often lead to overspending, the bipartisan-endorsed Senate plan breaks that mold, Hill stated. “It’s incredibly easy to create a major long-term budget problem in supplemental years,” he explained. “That is why we exercised restraint in order to bring forward a plan that is sustainable and puts us in a better position to build on our commitment to education in the next major overhaul.”
The Senate’s plan and the House’s proposed supplemental budget are now being considered for reconciliation in the House’s Appropriations Committee. If the House approves a supplemental budget different than the Senate’s version, it will need to go back to the Senate for reconsideration. The 60-day Legislative Session is scheduled to close on March 13.
McAuliffe’s Legislative District 1 includes Mountlake Terrace east of I-5, all of Brier, and portions of unincorporated south Snohomish County, in addition to areas of Bothell, Kirkland and Woodinville.