OLYMPIA – Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, today released the following statement on the passage of the 2013-15 biennial operating budget:

"This has been a long, hard process, but I commend my colleagues for finally coming together to pass a budget that sets our state on solid ground entering the next biennium and prevents a shutdown of essential services.

“From the beginning, we have set our children and their education at the top of our priority list. That we were able to invest $1 billion in our education system and assist some of the most needy schools in our state is a testament to how seriously we take that responsibility. By expanding all-day kindergarten and reducing class size for kindergarten and first-grade classes in high-poverty areas, we are ensuring that our youngest learners get the best possible start to the schooling. By investing in teacher and principal evaluation training, we help make sure that the men and women standing at the head of the classroom are the best and brightest.

“In addition to strengthening our educational foundation, this budget also maintains the safety net that assists the most vulnerable men and women in our state. Housing and assistance programs for the poor and elderly are no longer subject to devastating cuts.

“The budget also recognizes the importance of our middle class and supports these families by fully implementing the Affordable Care Act. Three-hundred thousand residents of our state will have access to health care through Medicaid expansion

“I do have two major concerns with this budget. First, it does not provide a formula for truly meeting our paramount duty to fund K-12 and higher education. It is a band-aid. Second, to use money from our capital budget funds to balance our operating budget is short-sighted.

“I have always believed that budgets should be job creators and, with that in mind, I look forward to continuing the growth in our state and driving the economic recovery forward. This means supporting a capital budget and transportation package that will put men and women back to work and build the infrastructure and economy that will attract and reward new and existing businesses in Washington.”

# # #

For more information: Ian Cope, Senate Democratic Caucus, 360-786-7535

For interviews: Sen. Steve Conway, 360-786-7656