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Senate majority leader optimistic, confident about second special session

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, issued the following statement after Gov. Jay Inslee called the Legislature into a second special session for 2017, starting at noon today.

I absolutely believe we will come to an agreement on a new two-year budget and how to fully fund Washington’s education system. We did not come here to fail. It has always been our priority to fulfill our paramount duty, which is why the Senate’s approach puts kids before bureaucrats – unlike the plans from the governor and the House Democrats.

I’m glad the governor finally decided to join us in this process. As for the House Democrats – they now have more time to come up with a properly funded plan. If their current plan was complete and balanced, we might be using it in negotiations, but we can’t.

All four corners are at the table working on the solution to McCleary, which, under our plan, accounts for more than 50 percent of the budget for the first time since the ’80s. We still differ on some things, but we’ve seen progress and we’ll get there.

It’s important to clear up some of the governor’s misrepresentations of our plan. Our education-funding proposal does not increase taxes on some in order to cut taxes for others. It applies a uniform school-levy rate to everyone across the state. That’s as fair as one can make it, and most people would see a property-tax cut. It’s too bad that the governor feels hard-working people in property-poor communities should be paying three to five times the rate of someone who lives in a more expensive area. And he completely failed to mention how King County property owners would save money under the Senate’s budget proposal compared to the House Democrats’ plan.

Also, our budget makes significant investments in higher education by funding our medical schools and adding 1,800 more resident-undergraduate slots at our universities. We prioritize mental health, seniors and foster care. It’s hard to believe the governor would find fault with that.

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