Bipartisan budget update addresses pressing state needs

Legislature also increases computer science opportunities at Bellevue College

Lawmakers approved an update to the state’s existing two-year budget that invests in mental health treatment, provides funding for charter schools and will begin reducing the education opportunity gap, all without raising taxes on working families. Sen. Steve Litzow advocated for the final bipartisan budget agreement along with legislation allowing Bellevue College to develop and offer computer science degrees.

“Last year we found broad bipartisan support for a budget that made historic investments in high-quality early learning and K-12 education, and cut college tuition for the first time in state history,” said Litzow, of Mercer Island, who serves as chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. “I’m pleased we were able to build on that progress this year, make necessary and targeted investments to address emergencies, and remain committed to a sustainable budget that projects to balance now and in the next budget cycle.”

Lawmakers added $191 million in spending to the overall $38 billion existing budget that spans 2015-17. Spending priorities included $28 million for improved mental health treatment and care, more than $10 million to address homelessness, as well as funding for teacher mentoring, homeless students and legislation aimed at lowering the education opportunity gap.

Another bill passed Tuesday as part of the budget agreement allows Bellevue College to develop curriculum and design and deliver courses enabling them to offer a four-year bachelor of science degree in computer science.

“High-quality computer science jobs continue to be in great demand,” said Litzow. “Providing Bellevue College students access to essential training and education in this field will help prepare them for success in their career and provide local employers with a well-prepared workforce.”

Lawmakers approved the budget update and other final bills as they adjourned for the year on the 20th day of a special session.