Teacher strikes, education funding, and legislator pay. These three issues have grabbed headlines recently as the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials considered increasing legislator pay by 11 percent while legislators are focused on completing budget negotiations. The independent commission voted Wednesday to enact that pay increase despite protests from Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia.
“When the commission began discussing legislator pay raises at the beginning of 2015, I was adamant this is not the time to have that discussion,” said Braun. “I continue to believe that. We need to focus on the real priority of funding education and finishing the new state operating budget.”
Braun, a lead budget negotiator for the Senate majority, has been working to build a sustainable budget that prioritizes state spending on education while remaining within available revenue – which is projected to be $3 billion more for 2015-17 compared to the two-year budget cycle that ends June 30.
“I sent a letter to the commission outlining my opposition to the proposed pay raise. I disagree with its decision to adopt an 11 percent increase and I won’t be accepting any pay raise until we finish work on the state’s budget and put education first,” he said.
The governor called a special legislative session April 29 to finish work on the state’s $38 billion operating budget, a task that Braun says “should have been completed in the 105-day regular session, as we passed a complete, no-new-taxes budget.” The special session is scheduled to end no later than May 28.