Sine Die: Here’s What We Accomplished

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Rep. Steve Bergquist Banner

March 7, 2024

Dear friends and neighbors,  

Thank you for your engagement during the 2024 legislative session. I believe that the work we have done will make so much meaningful difference in the lives of Washingtonians. But our work doesn’t end here! Throughout the interim period, please feel free to reach out to me at with any questions, concerns, advocacy, or feedback. You can also contact my legislative assistant, Syd, at to schedule a meeting. 

Thank you so much to all who responded to our last survey, about investments made in the House and Senate proposed budgets. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time. You can view survey results here. 

This week, we’d like to gather some feedback about the six initiatives to the legislature. Click here to fill out this week’s survey.

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Here’s an update on some recent legislative developments from the last few weeks:  

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Supporting Our Students and Our Schools

Investing In Our Students 

As school districts face financial challenges due to increasing costs and student needs, I introduced House Bill 2494 to boost state funding for materials, supplies, and operating costs (MSOC) in schools. This bill, aimed at providing immediate relief, prioritizes frontloading funding. Here’s a breakdown of our investments in schools and students: 

School Funding: Recognizing the rising insurance costs burdening school districts, we’re allocating $44 million to cover materials, supplies, and operating expenses. This funding ensures schools can maintain facilities, acquire necessary supplies, and foster an optimal learning environment. 

School Meals: Understanding the link between hunger and learning, we’re adding $45 million to support free school meals. This commitment ensures full funding for every school meal in Tukwila and most in Renton. 

Special Education: Addressing the need for support, we’re allocating an additional $25 million for special education services. Including investing $3.5 million in a residency program for paraeducators to become special education teachers and $1.74 million to bolster teacher recruitment efforts. 

Paraeducators: House Bill 1277 enhances paraeducator support through updated guidance and consistent training across districts. With a $72 million investment, this initiative ensures paraeducators are equipped to effectively assist students. 

Dual Language: We’re appropriating $4.7 million for grants to expand high-quality dual language, heritage language, and indigenous language programs, catering to diverse student needs. 

Electric school buses: HB 1368 helps school districts transition to electric buses with an additional $30 million dollars in grant funding  

By prioritizing education, we’re not only investing in our children’s futures but also strengthening our community as a whole. I’m proud to be part of these efforts, and I will continue to advocate for policies that promote excellence in education and opportunity for all. 


Support for Refugees in Washington

We’re experiencing an escalating humanitarian crisis in Washington—particularly at Tukwila’s Riverton Park United Methodist Church refugee camp. We’ve allocated $8 million in the state budget to support the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (ORIA), with $5 million allotted to King County and $2.5 allotted directly to Tukwila to provide immediate relief for our residents. As we navigate this global challenge, legislative initiatives demonstrate Washington’s commitment to providing support and assistance to refugees, reflecting a collective effort towards a more inclusive and supportive community.

Addressing Housing Affordability: Our Commitment to Solutions

I share your concerns about the challenges of housing affordability in our community. Despite our robust economy, housing prices have become a significant barrier for many families and individuals.

In 2023, we took historic steps, making investments to create 13,200 affordable homes and expanding emergency housing options for 2,300 people experiencing homelessness. However, I understand that the need persists, with rising eviction rates and increased vulnerability among renters. It’s clear that we must focus on creating over a million affordable housing units by 2044.

To tackle this challenge, we’ve consistently increased funding since 2013, reaching a total of over $1 billion in the 2023-25 budgets. This includes a substantial $400 million for the Housing Trust Fund, dedicated to constructing and preserving affordable units.

I want you to know that I am committed to finding real solutions for housing and homelessness in our community, ensuring that everyone in Washington has a place to call home.

Expanding Capacity and Enhancing Facilities

The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has acquired the Cascade Behavioral Health hospital in Tukwila, now named Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health. This move is a proactive step to expand our state-run bed capacity for behavioral health patients. This year, we have fully funded operation in the budget cycle. As patients transition from Western State Hospital to Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health, DSHS plans to add a minimum of 72 beds by fiscal year 2024’s end, reducing the strain on our forensic bed waitlist. We’ve also allocated funds for reopening wards at Western and Eastern State Hospitals, providing an additional 38 forensic beds by January 2024.

But the investment goes beyond beds. With a dedicated budget of $45 million in bonds, Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health will undergo capital improvements to reinforce safety measures, enhance nursing stations, upgrade HVAC units, and expand activity areas. This initiative reflects our commitment to improving the quality and accessibility of behavioral health services, fostering a more inclusive and resilient community.

I am thrilled to see the passage of so many bills this session that will improve the lives of Washingtonians and make our communities safer, greener, and more equitable.

As we move forward, I encourage you to stay involved, stay informed, and continue advocating for the issues that matter to you. I look forward to working together towards a brighter future for our state.


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Rep. Steve Bergquist

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