OLYMPIA – While education, public safety and healthcare are vital pieces of any state budget, Sen. Steve Conway says job creation must be at the heart of any state spending plan. The Democrat from South Tacoma says the budget passed by the Senate last week lacks that heart.

"It is of critical importance that a state budget drive job creation," said Conway, D-South Tacoma. "The budget proposed by Senate Republicans makes a down payment in education and moves the state forward in healthcare, but it falls short of its responsibility to create the opportunity for men and women in Washington to find family wage jobs."

From work on construction sites to work in engineering firms, Conway says the Legislature must take every possible opportunity to drive down the state’s unemployment rate. He says in 2013, those opportunities are being missed.

“Budgets are job drivers and we must not lose sight of that fact in spite of our desire to fund K-12 education,” said Conway. “There must be room in this budget for both.”

Conway referred to two budget sweeps that impact jobs: a diversion of money from the Public Works Trust Fund and the sweeping of accounts that fund aerospace training centers. Conway also proposed a budget amendment that would have added $20 million to the 2013-15 budget to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education (STEM) in Washington’s public two-and four-year universities. Conway says an increase in college graduates in those areas would help fill the 25,000 jobs that go unfilled in Washington as a result of the jobs skills gap.

“Washington has many great jobs available but lacks the skilled workers needed to fill them,” said Conway. “If that job gap persists, companies could move jobs out of state or use under-skilled workers who would undermine productivity.”

Conway added that by creating more skilled workers, Washington would reduce its unemployment rate and could generate several million dollars in tax revenue.

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