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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This Sunday, April 26, is the final day of the 105-day regular session. I had hoped to tell you this is the final week, that budgets are ready for adoption and that the Legislature will soon be finished. Instead, we are facing a different reality.

The Legislature has decided to adjourn sine die at the end of the day today. Gov. InsleeGov. Jay Inslee demands tax increases has called a special session, beginning next Wednesday, April 29. The reason we are going into a special session is because Gov. Inslee insists on raising taxes even though the state is getting a record $3 billion (9 percent raise) in additional revenue without tax increases.

It is a complete reversal from candidate Jay Inslee, who told several news outlets, including Crosscut on Nov. 14, 2012 that: “the Legislature can raise money to meet a Washington Supreme Court mandate to increase school funding by creating enough new jobs to generate more state revenue — and without raising taxes. ‘I think economic growth is the best way forward,’ Inslee said.”

Many times, I’ve said job creation is the best way to bring more revenue to the state — NOT tax increases. We’ve got an additional $3 billion coming to the state because of economic growth. Tax increases will stifle that growth.

Here’s the other hang-up that has forced the Legislature into a special session: House Rep. Dan Kristiansen with House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Mark SchoeslerDemocrats have passed an operating budget that would rely on $1.5 billion dollars in new and increased taxes, including a capital gains income tax and a B&O tax. They sent that budget over to the Senate. However, they have not pulled out their tax package for a vote, even though their budget relies on those taxes. Senate Republicans, who also passed their version of an operating budget that does not rely on tax increases, say they cannot negotiate on the House Democratic budget until the Democrats pass their tax package. Otherwise, they say it is a hollow budget and they would be negotiating against themselves. House Democrats say the Senate won’t approve the tax increases, so why pull it up to take the hard votes?

Please read on for more information about my views on the teacher walkouts.

Contact my office with your questions, comments and suggestions about the budget proposal or any other matters relating to legislation and state government. It is an honor to serve and represent you!.

What the teachers are saying. . .
These are messages sent to my office this week from teachers and school employees. Please take my survey and provide your own comments!

“As a public school employee, I urge you to raise new revenue so we can fully fund education and protect the social and health services our students need. Our current tax system is unfair and inadequate. The House’s proposed tax on capital gains is a good step forward, but I also support other sources of new revenue, including a tax on big polluters and closing unfair corporate tax loopholes.”

“If the Legislature can find a way to approve a record-setting $8.7 billion tax break for Boeing, you can find a way to fund the smaller class sizes our kids need and deserve.”

“Until YOU do my job, don’t sit there on your high horse and surmise that me, a lowly teacher, is overpaid and under worked!  Listen to the people that elected you and do what is right: LOWER CLASS SIZE K-12 and pay a competitive salary to the educators of this state!”

2014-15 AVERAGE SCHOOL DISTRICT PERSONNEL SALARIES (includes insurance and mandatory benefits):

Arlington – $98,700
Monroe – $93,657
Granite Falls – $91,572
Sedro-Woolley – $82,359
Source: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

Teacher strikes: How much is enough?

I am deeply disappointed that teachers in numerous school districts have chosen to walk out of their classrooms this week and to hold a one-day strike to protest the Senate Republican operating budget proposal. I expressed that disappointment in a prepared statement this past weekend.

It raises the question, “How much is enough?”

Overview of Senate budget for K-12 education:

  • $2.7 billion biennial increase (from $15.3 billion to $18 billion);
  • $1.3 billion policy adds ($740 million for maintenance, supplies and operating costs; $350 million for K-3 class-size reduction; and $190 million for all-day kindergarten);
  • $230 million for K-12 salary increases;
  • $210 million for increased pension costs;
  • The bipartisan capital budget would build 2,100 more classrooms to reduce K-3 class size. Class size in upper grades is maintained at current levels, NOT made more crowded;
  • 17.8 percent increase in state appropriations (versus less than 6 percent increase for other non-education portions of the state budget);
  • This is the largest K-12 biennial percentage growth in more than 25 years; and
  • K-12 funding under this proposal would take up 47 percent of the state budget – the highest since Gov. Spellman was in office more than 30 years ago.

In its editorial Monday, The Seattle Times said “Instead of striking, teachers across Washington state should be celebrating.”

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen

State Representative Dan Kristiansen, 39th Legislative District
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000