Dear friends and neighbors,

Throughout my time serving in the Senate, I have never voted against a final operating budget — until today. I cannot in good conscience support a budget that raids the pocketbooks of our cities and hampers my local school districts’ ability to plan their upcoming budgets.

This budget does nothing to delay the impending fiscal disaster our local school districts are facing. During the recession, lawmakers temporarily hiked the amount of money schools could raise through property tax levies so that school districts could make it through the recession. This temporary increase is set to expire at the end of August 2017.

I support extending this deadline out another year. Unfortunately, this budget failed to do this and now school districts are going to struggle to hire new teachers and plan their budgets responsibly.

Additionally, I am disappointed that this budget unfairly sweeps a successful loan program, the Public Works Trust Fund, which local communities rely on for critical infrastructure improvements. Since it was founded, the public works fund has awarded more than 2,000 loans and grants totaling more than $2.2 billion, and every loan has been repaid in full. We are now claiming to be fiscally responsible by balancing the state budget, but the reality is we are raising the cost of paying for your local utilities, which is not good for the residents of Washington.

Ultimately, the budget passed both chambers and is now headed to the governor’s desk. However, next year is a whole new ball game. I will work hard to ensure your local tax dollars stay local so that our schools can continue to be the best in the state and our cities have the resources they need to strengthen their infrastructures.

ICYMI: Town hall weekend

This Saturday, April 2, I will host three town hall forums throughout the 5th Legislative District. The times and locations are as follows:

Issaquah: 11 a.m. to noon

Issaquah Highlands Fire Station 73

1280 NE Park Dr., Issaquah 98029

Snoqualmie: 1-2 p.m.

Snoqualmie Library

7824 Center Blvd. SE, Snoqualmie 98065

Maple Valley: 3-4 p.m.

Maple Valley Library

21844 SE 248th St., Maple Valley 98038

Constituent engagement is a critical and crucial part of the legislative process, and that’s why these town halls are so important. I hope to see you there!