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Angel says budget proposal shortchanges education, is unsustainable

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The Washington State House of Representatives voted on Saturday, 53-43, to approve a $32.4 billion state operating budget for the next two years.

Citing deep cuts to education, Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, voted against the proposed legislation, House Bill 1087.

“In tough economic times,” she said,   “we must prioritize government spending, just like businesses and families must do. Instead of prioritizing, our state just continues spending while kicking its responsibilities down the road.”

Angel said when one compares revenue versus state spending over the past decade, revenue peaked around 2007. However, when revenue started going down, the spending continued to increase.

“We don’t have a revenue problem,”  she said.  “We have a spending problem. Because of that, we’ve not prioritized what should be at the top of that list. To me, that’s education.

“It’s in our state constitution,”  Angel said.  “That making ample provision for the education of children is Washington’s paramount duty. Yet this budget shirks that duty in several ways.”

Angel accused the budget of cutting funding for K-4 class size reductions.

“That means our youngest children may not get the attention they need at a time when early learning is so essential,”  she said.  “It also reduces need-based student aid to those students who choose private institutions. The point of this aid is not to support institutions, but to help students.”

Angel also took issue with a 20 percent reduction for alternative schools.

“This specialized education,”  she said.  “is very important for at-risk students who have the ability to excel in alternative schools because they get the one-on-one attention they need that may not be available in mainstream schools. This budget lets them down.

“This is not an education budget,”  Angel concluded.  “It does not live up to our paramount duty. As one of my constituents from Port Orchard wrote to me, ‘In the most fabulous country in the world, we are cheating our kids, our country and its future with cuts to education.’ This budget has ignored priorities, it doesn’t put people back to work, it cuts education and it is not sustainable. That’s why I voted against it.”

The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

 

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