Special Session Update
May 23, 2017 | By Washington House Democrats
Improving access to dental care in our community
Last month, the Spokesman Review published a piece I wrote about the importance of expanding dental care access, especially for low-income adults, pregnant women, and children. This issue was originally brought to my attention some years ago by a man named Aaron Kathman, whose own struggle to find affordable dental care led him to speak out on behalf of others. With a budget agreement still not finalized in the Legislature, these critical investments in our dental infrastructure hang in the balance. Please join me in the push for more access to affordable dental care for all Washingtonians. Click here to read my op-ed, “House efforts would expand access to dental care, training.”
Bringing medical care to rural and underserved communities
We desperately need more physicians in our state to serve our growing and aging population. Rural and underserved communities have the greatest need. While I’m thrilled the new WSU medical school will welcome its first 60 students this fall, it will be several years before the school joins the University of Washington in producing new physicians for our state. In the meantime, a bill I sponsored this year will bring more physicians online in our state through telemedicine, as well as expedite licensing for physicians who come here from other states. Washington now joins a group of 18 states in a compact that streamlines licensing and cuts unnecessary red tape. This is about getting people in our communities the health care they need, no matter where they happen to be in our state.
Governor Inslee signed the bill into law on May 5th.
Special session ending without a budget deal
Today is the final day of the first special session of 2017. We’re now 30 days past the end of the regular session, but Senate Republican leaders continue to refuse to join House Democrats at the negotiating table. If a compromise isn’t agreed to by June 30th, the state government could shut down July 1.
That’s unacceptable to me. Washington state is better than the other Washington, where gridlock and the threat of government shutdown are par for the course. Our families, schools and businesses in Spokane want the certainty of a state budget agreement that fully funds our schools and keeps state government open and serving Washingtonians.
While both the Republicans’ and Democrats’ budget proposals include new revenue to fully fund K-12 education, the Republicans’ plan does so by sharply increasing property taxes in much of the state, while ultimately providing less funding per student over four years than under the Democrats’ plan. In fact, Spokane Public Schools would get nearly $30 million less in state funding over four years under the Republican plan. This map shows the net increase in funding per student, as well as the net property tax increase, for both plans (zoom in to click on the info for Spokane). The information comes from an analysis by the nonpartisan Office of Program Research at the state House of Representatives.
How does the Democrats’ plan fund education? Through more progressive revenue sources like a capital gains excise tax, a tax on million-dollar home sales, and high-grossing businesses, while also reducing or eliminating Business & Occupation (B&O) taxes for four out of five businesses.
I will keep you informed about what happens next at the Legislature. My hope is Senate Republicans will start negotiating and a state government shutdown is avoided.
As always, it is an honor to serve you.
Representative Marcus Riccelli
3rd Legislative District – Spokane