‘No government shutdown’ assures Senate majority leader

Schoesler maintains confidence that budget deal will be reached in time to avoid partial shutdown

OLYMPIA…Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement of a third special legislative session to finalize negotiations on a budget for the 2017-19 biennium.

“I fully expect the budget teams to submit a deal to the governor in time to prevent even a partial shutdown of state government. Despite the partisan finger-pointing heard today from the governor, lawmakers on both sides have been working hard on multiple fronts to negotiate a compromise that fulfills our paramount duty to support public schools, without breaking the bank or over-burdening taxpayers. It’s no easy task and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’m frustrated it has taken this long but optimistic that our negotiators will cross that finish line in time.

“We’re not still here because of the fight to fund K-12. We’re not here for lack of hard work on this issue. We’re still here because the governor wants to raise taxes to fund things he prioritized ahead of education in his budget.

“We have $1 billion in additional revenue since the governor released his budget. There are no more votes in the Senate for the taxes he wants than there were in January, and the House doesn’t have the votes either.

“The governor’s budget gave unrealistic expectations for what our state could afford over the next biennium and we’ve been trying to bring the Democrats back to reality ever since.”

When completed, it is expected that more than 50 percent of the operating budget will apply toward education – a level not seen since the administration of Republican Gov. John Spellman in the early 1980s.

During most of the 35 years since, when Democrats controlled the lawmaking process, education ranked a lower priority in the budget. The Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus reversed this trend with an increase in education spending of more than $4.6 billion over the past four years.