April 9th, 2012
Special Session Update
The full House and Senate convened last week and we made significant progress on budget negotiations. On Thursday, the House passed an updated version of the budget that moves closer toward a compromise with Senate Republicans but still protects important investments for our community. Once again, the House budget has no cuts to education and maintains funding for key safety net programs like the Basic Health Plan, the Housing and Essential Needs Program, and Sally’s House.
The Legislature has until midnight Tuesday (the end of the special session) to reach agreement and pass a final version of the operating budget as well as the capital budget/ jobs package and a few other bills that are required to implement the budget.
The major sticking point now is that the Senate Republicans are demanding we pass several other bills that are unrelated to this year’s budget before they will vote on the operating or capital budget. I don’t think we should be dealing with these other bills at this point in the process, especially because they are quite controversial. However, we are continuing to negotiate and the House will consider these other bills as we continue to work toward a compromise agreement.
There is still quite a bit of work to be done but I am optimistic that we can pass a responsible, balanced operating budget and job-creating capital budget (which includes the second half of funding for the Spokane Medical School) before Tuesday’s deadline.
Connecting with Constituents
Earlier in the special session I was able to spend a bit of time back home in Spokane and used this opportunity to connect with constituents in person. I joined my seatmate, Senator Lisa Brown, to host a rally in support of investments in crucial safety net programs. The event was held at the Salvation Army and I was moved by the large turnout of constituents and the compelling stories we heard from many in attendance.
Crystal, a client of the Housing and Essential Needs program (HEN), shared her story. HEN is helping Crystal transition from a life of addiction and prostitution to becoming a productive member of our community. Others in attendance talked about the State Food Assistance program and the many families in our community that rely on this help to put food on their table each day.
Keeping in touch
Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with questions or comments, whether they involve bills before the Legislature or topics you feel are being overlooked. You can reach me in Olympia by e-mail (email@example.com) or by phone at 509-209-2427.
And if you know someone who would like to get their copy of my weekly newsletter, ask them they can go to my website athttp://www.housedemocrats.wa.gov/roster/rep-andy-billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter” – I’ll be glad to keep them in the loop!