Braun-sponsored state budget approved, makes historic education investments

Public education will account for more than half of state spending for the first time since 1983 under a new budget sponsored by Sen. John Braun, which today passed the Washington State Legislature. The $43.7 billion two-year operating budget will cover the day-to-day costs of state government from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019.

“Students from every community in our state will now have the same opportunity and support as their peers in high-performing schools,” said Braun, R-Centralia, who serves as chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “We’re solving a generational problem facing our students and taxpayers, with a generational solution.”

The bipartisan budget includes $21.9 billion for K-12 education in 2017-19, a 62 percent increase since the 2012 state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling.

Manufacturing businesses will also see a 40 percent reduction in business and occupation taxes, bringing all manufacturers to a uniform statewide rate, which is currently only available to Boeing and other aerospace companies.

“Employment has grown across all sectors, with the exception of manufacturing, which has lost more than 50,000 jobs since 2000,” said Braun. “Leveling the playing field for all manufacturers will make employers more competitive and successful, especially in rural communities.”

The new budget also invests in improved mental health treatment and care by providing 300 more beds for long-term care in community treatment and 96 additional slots at crisis walk-in centers.

Property tax reform is also on the way for Washington residents as a new school funding system replaces existing local maintenance and operations levies with a $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value maximum for all school districts. Local levy collections will also be capped at $2,500 per student, with the state guaranteeing $1,500 for districts where collections fall short. This is coupled with an increase in the existing statewide property tax to a rate of $2.70.

The agreement follows previous calls from the governor and House of Representatives to increase taxes by at least $8 billion.

The budget was approved by a 70-23 in the House of Representatives and 39-10 in the Senate and is expected to be signed by the governor before July 1.