Transportation and education investments top achievements in legislative session

Yesterday we noted generally positive early reviews for the just-completed legislative session. Today, we want to highlight two good assessments of the session.

First, if you read nothing else about the transportation package passed in the closing hours of the session, read this op-ed by Sen. Joe Fain and Rep. Judy Clibborn. The transportation legislation represented, as they say, a rare instance of bipartisan cooperation, one which also benefitted greatly from a strong coalition of business, labor, civic and governmental leaders. From the op-ed:

For the past three years, the Legislature has been struggling to craft a transportation plan that a Republican Senate, and a Democratic House and governor could support. Divided government in Washington, D.C., paralyzes decision-makers. But in this Washington, we believed our economy and our quality of life could not endure another decade of inaction and finger pointing.

…These negotiations were difficult in substance, but they were rarely difficult in style. We knew compromise was needed and that no side could feel as if they had lost.

There is a dangerous belief that is seeping into our modern political culture: “Compromise” is a dirty word in many circles. To some it means “weakness” or “unprincipled.” To us it means progress and building a better Washington that works for everyone.

Well said. Well done.

Then see this review of the education budget from Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters.

What we see in this budget is a more comprehensive investment in education than at any other time in the state’s history. Through their strong investments in public education across the spectrum, early learning through postsecondary, the Legislature has given all Washington’s students more hope for their future.

While she – and most others, including us – would have liked to see progress on addressing the local levy problem, Korsmo concludes,

We viewed this legislative session as an opportunity to address the inherent inequities in how our schools are funded; now we look to the Supreme Court to address this issue.

Nonetheless, our lawmakers have passed one of the best budgets for education in our state’s history.

It may have taken a while. It did take a while. But the overtime work paid off where it counted this year: significant progress in transportation and education funding without increasing business costs.