Ranker: Budget fails across the state

Submitted by the office of Kevin Ranker

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, issued the following statement today following the Senate’s passage of the 2016 supplemental operating budget.

“Traditional bipartisan negotiations on the budget were suspended last week, when the tally was still in the red, so final cuts were decided without Democrats in the room. While the budget my Republican colleagues passed today does many things I agree with and helped shape before bipartisan negotiations broke down, it fails to address critical needs in several areas. “First, it literally balances on the pensions of retired firefighters, police officers and schoolteachers. That’s no way to thank them for a lifetime of public service.

“At a time when mental health needs are on the rise, this budget reduces mental health funding by $14.3 million.

“Homelessness is dramatically increasing in communities across our state. More than 35,000 school children are homeless, and while this budget does take some actions to begin to address this crisis, it does not go far enough. It doesn’t begin to provide the funding necessary to reverse this destructive tide. This budget tells people across our state that being without a safe, warm home does not constitute an emergency.

“Without action on the looming levy cliff, school districts across our state stand to lose over $460 million in local funds. They need assurance that we will delay the levy cliff so that they can plan their budgets this fall. Without the amendment we tried to add to the budget, these districts have no assurance they will receive these critical funds. Also, while we are being fined $100,000 a day for failing to adequately fund our schools, this budget does nothing to take additional steps to address the largest outstanding aspects of the McCleary ruling to fully fund education.

“This budget leaves thousands of women without access to one of the most effective methods of preventing unintended pregnancy – long-acting, reversible contraceptives. If women who rely on Medicaid were able to access these contraceptives, Washington state would avoid about 2,804 unintended pregnancies annually–saving the state millions at the same time.

“When negotiations resume to settle on a final budget, I will work tirelessly to address these urgent, critical needs.”