Dear friends and neighbors,
This afternoon, the majority party released its long-awaited operating budget proposal. I wanted to write to let you know of some initial concerns I have with this spending plan. The most important is that the Democrat budget plan would close residential habilitation centers, including the Yakima Valley School in Selah and the Francis Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton for a savings of $6.6 million.
Since elected two-and-a-half years ago, I have worked to preserve the Yakima Valley School, which serves some of our most vulnerable citizens in the local area. Besides offering the best of care for its developmentally disabled residents, the Yakima Valley School provides more than 275 jobs in our community.
I am very concerned that the closure of this school could be traumatic for residents, as well as costly, not only in terms of dollars, but the emotional price families would pay as they are separated from their loved ones.
Good budgeting involves setting priorities. I feel our priorities in this budget must be: education, public safety, and the state's most vulnerable citizens. Yet this morning, we were told this budget proposal would preserve the state printing operations (which, if eliminated could save up to $20 million), but would close Yakima Valley School. That's not the right priority, in my opinion.
In addition, the proposal would eliminate funding for K-12 class-size reduction, cut $482 million for our higher education institutions, increase tuition by 11.5 percent per year at Central Washington University and by 11 percent at Yakima Valley Community College, while providing early release of certain offenders from our prisons. In other words, this budget would CUT education, INCREASE offenders on the streets, and CLOSE residential care centers, while preserving non-essential departments such as the state printer.
I will not only strongly oppose this plan, but will fight to preserve the Yakima Valley School. We need a budget that has its priorities in order. Unfortunately, I cannot say that about the proposal released today.
Read more about this proposal from the budget summary.
As always, I invite your comments. Please call or write my office. Visit my Web site for more details at houserepublicans.wa.gov/Johnson.