Majority Leader: We have the votes to pass a no-new-taxes budget

OLYMPIA… Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, released this statement in advance of passage of a 2015-17 operating budget by members of the state Senate:

“We have the votes to pass a no-new-taxes budget that fully funds K-12 education and offers college students and their families the first tuition cut in at least a generation.

“It’s time to start focusing on solutions that get results. The Senate budget represents a major shift in priorities and directs new spending toward education at a level not seen in 30 years. We ask the Senate minority Democrats to join us in making the funding solution to K-12 and teacher compensation a reality.

“The people want us to reduce class size, so we’re building 2,200 more classrooms for kindergarten through third grade. Teachers deserve to know they’re valued, so we’re giving them a long overdue cost of living adjustment. Families and students want real relief from skyrocketing tuition costs, so we’re cutting the cost of tuition by 25 percent. Rather than just put more money into State Need Grants, we decided the best form of financial aid is to reduce the need and help more students realize their college dreams – debt free.

“Our Senate majority made a promise to live within our means and state revenue is up by $3 billion. Families are experiencing the double squeeze of higher energy and college costs. We’re still in a fragile economic recovery with high unemployment in many parts of the state. Now is not the time to raise taxes on families and employers.

“An added $3 billion is plenty to meet the challenges we face in education and mental health. We’re ready to negotiate a pro-education, no-new-taxes budget that allows us to finish this legislative session on time.”