Rivers says stage is set for legislators to complete budget work, conclude session

Sen. Ann RiversIn light of a significant boost in resources available to legislative budget-writers, Sen. Ann Rivers today said the Senate and House of Representatives should be able to complete their work this weekend and prevent layoff notices from going to state workers.

“With nearly a half-billion dollars more on hand today than we had just a week ago, there is no credible reason for House Democrats to keep demanding tax increases,” said Rivers, R-La Center. “Let’s come in Saturday, start voting on a budget and be done Sunday. There is no need for anyone to send out pink slips or continue the silly talk about a government shutdown. This isn’t Washington D.C., and we don’t play those Washington D.C. games with our valued state employees.”

Rivers said the latest Senate budget proposal, adopted June 8, proved state government could live within its means while enhancing support for K-12 education. The situation brightened even more Tuesday when the latest state revenue forecast projected an increase of $231 million and a new caseload forecast projected $90 million in savings; that means Olympia now expects to have $2.8 billion more in 2013-15 than it has during the budget cycle that ends a week from Sunday.

“Our coalition had insisted on putting a few more reforms in place before we would look at new revenue – but now the revenue question has gone away, so the stage is set to have all the new budgets in place comfortably ahead of the July 1 deadline. I’m ready to take the necessary votes and hope the House majority is also,” added Rivers, who is a member of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus leadership team. “It’s the right thing to do by our school districts, the people who rely on state services, and everyone else who deserves certainty in this situation.”

Rivers said the Senate majority is poised to spend $15.1 million solely on K-12 education during the next two years; that’s a $1.5 billion increase from 2011-13, two-thirds of which is in direct response to the state Supreme Court’s school-funding decision from early 2012.

“Outside of our bipartisan coalition there probably weren’t many who thought, more than five months ago, it would be possible to craft a budget that increases K-12 funding by 10 percent and puts a billion dollars toward the McCleary decision – all without raising taxes,” said Rivers, who serves on the Senate budget committee. “The Senate majority showed it can be done, so let’s get on with the voting and bring this seemingly interminable session to an end.”