While the budget that passed the Senate Wednesday morning is far from perfect, I am proud of how hard our Democratic caucus fought for the priorities of our constituents. We managed to secure:
-$300 million in one-time FY24 K-12 funding
-$88.6 million in new, ongoing K-12 funding
-A lifted Aggregate Expenditure Limit for next year
-$150 million Housing Trust Fund Deposit
-$60 million for Homeless Shelter and Services
-Legalized and appropriated funding for drug testing equipment
-Expanded KidsCare to cover an additional 12,000 low-income children
However, I am incredibly disappointed in the process and some important items which were not included in the budget. Legislative Democrats were not included in negotiations until the 11th hour, and the budget does not include a cap on the universal Empowerment Scholarship Account program, which threatens the state’s financial security. Despite fighting hard the entire session to get even a moderate cap in place, the majority refused to even consider it.
I’m also disappointed in the majority party’s threats of stripping Democratic priorities out of the budget if we did not have at least six Democrats vote yes. In fact, they had already taken our stuff out of the budget and had to put it back in in the middle of the night, delaying our vote on the feed bill until about 4:30AM.
This budget was the best we could expect. Had this budget failed, the options on the horizon would have been far worse.
Despite these many shortcomings, I believe the budget was a win for LD 4’s priorities and is the best budget we’ve seen in decades, and I was ultimately proud to vote for most of the budget bills, including the feed bill.