Opinion editorial by Bruce Chandler: A budget worthy of my vote

Special to the Yakima Valley Business Times

 

After 153 days, the 2013 Legislature has adjourned. A government “shutdown” was avoided. And a reasonable budget was passed that lives within the means provided by taxpayers.

Republicans and Democrats started at opposite ends of the taxing spectrum. While Democrats, led by Governor Inslee, demanded tax increases of nearly $1.3 billion, Republicans did not want to increase taxes at all on hard-working families.

The final budget deal does not include any of the proposed tax increases on satellite TV, beer, bottled water, out-of-town shoppers or small businesses. Not only were these tax increases vehemently opposed by the public, they hurt the poor and middle class the most. I was glad to see them out of the final budget proposal.

Perhaps the greatest achievement in the budget is that it provides more than $1 billion in new funding to education – targeted toward student outcomes. The greatest amount will be spent on materials, supplies and operating costs to relieve some of the pressure for local levies. Another portion will be spent on pupil transportation – something that will dramatically assist our rural districts who must travel longer distances to bring students to school. All-day kindergarten will be expanded, and class sizes will be reduced in early elementary classes where we know it makes the greatest difference in student learning. Funding will be provided for bilingual education to help students learn English as a second language. Teacher and principal evaluations and training will also be provided. Many of the benefits of this targeted funding may not be seen for years, but children are worth the investment.

Since this is the beginning of a two-year budget, reserves are crucial. This budget leaves $630 million in reserves so the Legislature can make needed adjustments to spending in next year's supplemental budget. No budget gimmicks are used to balance the budget, like shifting school apportionment.

While not perfect – I doubt any budget could be when 49 legislative districts are represented – the final budget provides a strong blueprint for budgets to come. It's the start of sustainability and the start of a strong future for Washington state.

Rep. Bruce Chandler lives in Granger, and has represented the 15th Legislative District since 1999. He owns and operates a commercial fruit orchard and raised his three grown children in the Yakima Valley.

To sign up for his e-mail updates, visit houserepublicans.wa.gov/chandler.

###

Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov