Action in Olympia is now centered on the budget proposals. This week, the House passed its operating and capital budgets. The Senate released its operating budget proposal on Tuesday and is expected to vote on the budget next week.
Soon, House and Senate members will begin negotiations to develop final budget plans to send to the Governor for approval. The deadline to finalize the budgets is April 26. If more time is needed, a special session must be called.
Below is a summary of programs or services in the Senate budget proposal that may be of interest to AAPI communities by issue area:
To comply with the state Supreme Court order to fully fund K-12 basic education, the Senate proposed a $1.3 billion increase for public schools—just under the House’s $1.4 billion investment. The Senate budget proposal did not include funding to implement recommendations from the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee to address the opportunity gaps in House Bill 1541.
The budget would also fund:
- K-3 class size reductions and all-day kindergarten for every child in the state;
- Cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for K-12 educators of 1.8% and 1.2% for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years (the House budget includes a 3% and 1.8% COLA);
- Expansion of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program for an additional 4,000 children (House adds 6,358 spaces);
- Reduces tuition at public 2- and 4-year colleges and ties future increases to the state’s average wage (the House budget holds tuition steady);
- The Kip Tokuda Memorial Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Program;
- Expansion of the Highly Capable program; and
- Non-violence training in schools and paraeducator
Health & Human Services
In 2012, voters passed Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana for adults age 21 and over. The initiative directed portions of the revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana to basic health, the state general fund, youth substance abuse prevention and treatment, a media-based education campaign about health and safety risks of marijuana, community health centers, and school drop-out prevention.
The Senate passed legislation, Senate Bill 6062, to redirect I-502 revenue to the state general fund, a portion of which would be distributed to local governments and for criminal justice purposes, and the Education Legacy Trust Account, which funds public schools and expands access to higher education.
The Senate budget would provide $3.85 million for a media-based education campaign about health and safety risks of marijuana, compared to $13 million in the House budget.
The Senate budget would also:
- Maintain funding for the Aged, Blind or Disabled Cash Assistance Program; Housing & Essential Needs; Limited English Proficient Pathway; Washington New Americans Program; and Naturalization Services; and
- Increase mental health care capacity.
The Senate Capital Budget has not been released yet.
For more information:
Legislative Update for the Week of 4/6-4/10
Fiscal committees are scheduled to meet Monday and Tuesday to pass bills with a fiscal impact by the April 7 deadline. Floor sessions are scheduled for the rest of the week to meet an April 15 deadline for passing legislation.