Dear friends and neighbors,

I wanted to send a short note to update you on what’s happening in Olympia. As many of you have read, today the Legislature approved a budget that will direct state spending over the next two years and prevents a government shutdown with only hours to spare.

The implications for the more than 7 million people living in our state are broad. The legislation we passed makes fundamental changes to our state’s K-12 educational system and restructures how the state collects property taxes.

Unfortunately, most lawmakers and the public had just a few hours to consider the final package as Republicans in our state Senate employed the stall tactics of Republicans in the other Washington. While this budget makes important investments in our public schools and other key social services, I could not vote “yes” on the proposal.

When I decided to run for the state Senate last year, I promised to work hard on a solution to infuse funding into our schools as outlined in the McCleary ruling, which found the state had been shortchanging students for decades.

The plan adopted by the Legislature does make many key investments into education, including increasing salaries for beginning teachers and substantially increasing the amount of money the district can use to support career and technical classes, the Learning Assistance Program, special education, and the Highly Capable Program.

When fully implemented, every school district in the 41st District will see significant additional funding. These are all critical investments that students, teachers and education advocates have been asking lawmakers to fund for years.

In order to pay for these investments, lawmakers had a historic opportunity to address our state’s upside-down tax code that relies heavily on seniors on fixed incomes and middle- and low-income families. Instead, Senate Republicans insisted on balancing our education investments on homeowners and renters by increasing the state property tax and placing a further burden on those who have been picking up the tab for years.

For the 41st Legislative District, this will mean increases in property tax bills. While the final details are still emerging, it’s clear Mercer Island households will pay hundreds of dollars more in taxes. Homeowners in Bellevue, Sammamish and Renton will also see property tax increases.

Balancing education on the backs of homeowners is unacceptable to me, especially when there are other progressive revenue options like a tax on capital gains.

In short, this is the compromise package the Legislature had to pass, but it’s certainly not the best we can do. As we move forward, I look forward to working with our local school districts to understand exactly where this plan improves outcomes for our kids and exactly where it can be improved.


Senator Lisa Wellman
(360) 786-7641