Hargrove appreciates hard work on state budget, but disproportionate cuts to education ‘unacceptable’

After a 103-day regular legislative session and a 30-day special session, the House of Representatives approved a record high $32.2 billion operating budget for the 2011-13 biennium. Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington, voted against the spending plan included in House Bill 1087 citing concerns with spending priorities despite a projected revenue growth of $3.85 billion, or nearly 14 percent.

“In March, my seatmates in the House and Senate and I held two town hall meetings, including one centered around education. What I heard was that before we start cutting education, we need to prioritize spending in other areas of the budget,” said Hargrove, who serves on the House Education Committee. “I agreed wholeheartedly. So when I saw the budget proposal and how lopsided it was when it came to education reductions, I simply could not support it. Meanwhile, other state programs didn’t see proportionate reductions.”

Under House Bill 1087, certificated and classified school employees would receive a 1.9 percent pay cut and school administration will receive a 3 percent pay cut. However, step increases, or those given for longevity, are funded. Each school district will be required to adjust their budgets according to educator contracts to meet the state-mandated reductions. National Board Certified teacher funding is changed, but remains in the budget to help schools retain quality teachers.

Hargrove explained that because local school districts negotiate their own contracts, they will decide exactly how to reduce their budgets to accommodate the funding reduction from the state.

“There will be a lot of difficulties when it comes to implementing these reductions since every education district does things a little different,” said Hargrove. “I know a lot of hard work went into the budget, and some good work was done. But, I cannot support cutting core functions of government, such as education, public safety and care for our most vulnerable, while increasing funding for non-essential programs.”

The 30-day special session adjourned May 25. Hargrove plans to meet with education and other groups during the interim. Constituents who would like to schedule a time to meet with him, can contact his legislative office at (360) 786-7918 or mark.hargrove@leg.wa.gov. He will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting on Thursday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. Details of the call are being arranged and will be sent out as soon as they are available.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov