Reinvestment Begins with House Budget

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Contact: Sylvia Watson, 206-261-3603; Karen Strickland, 206-326-0685

March 27, 2015

For immediate release

Reinvestment Begins with House Budget 

Statement by AFT Washington President Karen Strickland 

It is refreshing to see the House take bold action to address the revenue crisis in Washington State.

I was especially pleased that the House budget begins to reverse the budget cuts of the last six years and recognizes that students carry too much of the cost of education by freezing tuition. However, tuition has risen to compensate for significant state disinvestment in higher education over the years. A substantial infusion of funding is needed in order to ensure the high-quality education we expect from our colleges and universities. A key ingredient of this high quality is the faculty. While funding the Cost of Living Adjustment is much appreciated by our membership, our community and technical college faculty continue to earn salary steps, which once again are unfunded for the fourth consecutive biennia.

I applaud the House for closing some unfair tax breaks such as for oil refineries, foreclosure lenders, and out-of-state shoppers and for establishing a capital gains tax. It’s time to fix our current regressive revenue system so that all Washingtonians — including communities of color and low-income and working-class residents and families — no longer subsidize the tax breaks that big business and wealthy individuals enjoy.

The only way to build strong communities that work for all of us, where prosperity and opportunity are achievable, is to invest in the people and the infrastructure of the state. That means a substantial investment in education from cradle through college, including the work inside and outside of the classroom, to reverse the austerity measures taken in the last six years as well as full funding of the safety net to ensure the health and well-being of all people in all communities.

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AFT Washington represents education employees in early learning, K-12 public schools, and higher education in universities and colleges in Washington State and is affiliated with the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers.