Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is the 75th day of the legislative session and bills are nearing the final stages of passing and the budget debate is now in full swing. This is the most important part of session!
I had 11 bills pass off the Senate floor and now those bills are in various stages of moving (or not moving!) through the House. At the same time, we are close to wrapping up committee work on all of the House bills that passed over. Which bills make it to final stages of becoming law will be decided in the next few weeks.
The Senate also released and passed our budget proposal on Tuesday, kicking off the budget debate. Get a quick summary of the budget and an update on my work in Olympia below and let me know your thoughts and questions.
Yours in service,
REMINDER: Telephone Town Hall on WEDNESDAY
Remember to join me and my fellow 17th District legislators as we answer your questions in a Telephone Town Hall.
Kicking Off the Budget Debate
Our state government works on a two-year budget cycle, meaning we have to write a two-year budget every other year. This is one of those years. We also have to write a budget that balances, unlike the federal government which is allowed to run with a deficit. Several years ago, we expanded the balanced budget requirement to four years so that any budget we pass must balance over the long-term and not rely on short-term budget gimmicks.
The Senate budget is balanced over the long-term and delivers on our priorities of funding education, providing for the most vulnerable, and protecting taxpayers from new taxes.
Total 2017-19 Spending: $43 billion
Education spending will account for over 50% of the budget – First time since Gov. Spellman (1983)
The Senate budget creates a statewide per-pupil funding system and establishes a $12,500 minimum per student funding amount. It institutes a $1.55/$1,000 assessed value local schools levy and eliminates existing local schools maintenance and operations levy: far less than the current statewide average of $2.54/$1,000.
This dramatically increases education funding for every student across the state while ending the inequity of $1 levy rates in some areas and $5 levy rates in others.
Here’s how our plan would affect schools in the 17th District:
The Senate budget also builds on our record of fighting for tuition cuts in higher education by adding access for 1,800 more Washington students to enter our four-year universities – 70% of these openings are targeted for high-demand STEM majors.
Included in our higher education budget is my Mental Health for Heroes bill to provide veteran-specific counseling and support to veterans attending college.
The budget also makes key investments in the social safety net, increasing meals on wheels support, nursing home care, mental health investment, and foster care reform.
No New Taxes
Washington voters have repeatedly said no to more taxes. Our budget delivers a responsible plan that funds our priorities without new tax increases.
To read more about the budget, click here.
My Senate Page for the Week: Halley Care
I was very excited to welcome Halley Care as my Senate Page last week. Halley is a freshman at Hockinson High School and is the daughter of Byron and Shawna Care of Vancouver. Halley participates in band and mock trials at school when she’s not swimming, camping, and hiking.
It was a pleasure having Halley come to Olympia for the week to get a hands-on learning experience at the Legislature. If you know a student aged 14-16 who might be interested in participating in the Senate Page Program in the future, please let me know!
Find Me on Facebook!
My official Senate Facebook page is live and you can follow me for updates by clicking here or on the link below:
BILL UPDATE: In the House
I passed 11 bills over to the House. 10 of them have received hearings and 7 have already passed out of committee. The bills have until Wednesday to pass out of House committee to keep moving forward.
Senate Bill 5185: Empowering disaster response volunteers – Passed House committee
Senate Bill 5212: Predictability in land use applications – Heard in House committee
Senate Bill 5214: Accountability for government agencies
Senate Bill 5230: Small Business Bill of Rights – Passed House committee
Senate Bill 5285: Connecting students with agriculture/natural resource jobs – Passed House committee
Senate Bill 5338: Keeping ORV purchases in Washington – Passed House committee
Senate Bill 5405: Protecting military recruiting locations – Passed House policy committee (still needs to pass fiscal committee)
Senate Bill 5517: Enabling freight jobs – Heard in House committee
Senate Bill 5525: Mental Health for Heroes Act – Heard in House committee
Senate Bill 5665: Modernizing purchasing rules for alcohol – Passed House committee
Senate Bill 5778: Maintaining higher education support for veterans – Passed House committee