“I commend the Senate on its hard work in releasing a proposed 2015–17 budget. With proposals from the House and Senate majorities, I urge budget leaders to come together as soon as possible to begin negotiating a final compromise.
“I am encouraged that the Senate budget includes a significant investment toward meeting the state’s constitutional basic education obligations and higher education investments.
“While we must still review all the details of the Senate plan, I have some initial concerns. As I have said, Washington’s current tax system is unfair and it does not keep pace with our state’s obligations to educate our children, support our most vulnerable citizens, and protect our natural resources.
“Without additional revenue, the Senate plan falls short in a number of areas. It funds $100 million less than the House for early learning, and nearly $500 million less for K-12 schools. The Senate plan does not do enough to address critical human service needs. Those vital services were the target of cuts during the Great Recession and have led courts to rule time and time again that the state is failing to care for its most vulnerable citizens.
“The Senate does not adequately fund state parks and places additional fiscal strains on local governments. And it contains nearly $50 million in unallocated “efficiency” savings that would hurt important services.
“The Senate’s rejection of good faith collective bargaining agreements is disappointing. My budget calls for modest, reasonable and long-overdue pay raises for state employees who have not received a general cost-of-living raise since 2008.
“Even with the significant differences between our budgets, however, I remain convinced that we can get this job done on time. I look forward to working with the House and Senate on substantive bipartisan negotiations.”