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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Locke hails budget as ‘the largest investment in kids and schools in Washington history’

OLYMPIA — Saying "this session produced the largest investment in kids and schools in Washington history," Gov. Gary Locke hailed the passage of the operating budget late Sunday. Locke cited several examples of education items he requested that were included in the final budget:

- Washington’s Promise Scholarships — $9 million to fund the governor’s proposal to help high-achieving high school students from low- and middle-income families afford a college education.

- Help for struggling students — $39 million to continue the Reading Corps, expand learning assistance, and add training in math instruction. These programs, in addition to $32 million for more teachers, nurses, and administrators, help accomplish Locke’s goal of improving student performance and making sure no child in Washington schools gets left behind.

- Pay raise for teachers and public employees — $993 million to provide basic annual increases and address the need – initially identified by the governor -- to meet rising costs for health benefits, and attract and retain the best teachers and college faculty.

"These education measures will produce lasting and concrete results," Locke said. "They will help us make Washington a better place to live, work, and raise a family."

The governor has worked throughout the session to keep education in the forefront of issues before the Legislature. At a news conference last Thursday, he urged legislators to finish their work in making education the number one priority. "We have the chance here to go down in history as the session that made a real difference for kids and gave the highest funding for education in our state’s history," he said.

Other key items of the governor’s agenda in the budget include:

- $14.6 million for the Offender Accountability Act, which will make communities safer by strengthening the supervision of 50,000 convicted felons after their release.
- Economic vitality legislation to spread the wealth of Puget Sound urban centers throughout Washington, helping local economies in rural areas.

Locke said he expects to call a special session of the Legislature to finish the transportation budget.

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