Good Jobs and Infrastructure for Spokane
It’s wonderful to be back in Spokane. Last week I ran through operating and transportation budget victories for our community. This week I’d like to recap our capital infrastructure and policy wins, as well as highlight areas where we have more work to do.
The Capital Budget passed this month will create family-wage jobs and promote infrastructure projects that will help our community thrive.
Here are some highlights:
- NEWTECH Skill Center: $8.15 million
- Women & Children’s Free Restaurant: $300,000
- Spokane County Women’s Club: $300,000
- Corbin Senior Center: $300,000
- MLK Jr. Family Outreach Center: $85,000
- Spokane Children’s Theater: $18,000
I am also pleased that we were able to fund a $5 million Healthy Schools – Healthy Kids grant program for school improvements, including kitchen upgrades based on my Apple a Day grant legislation for healthy food in schools, as well as other projects designed to foster children’s health.
In addition to the Healthy Schools – Healthy Kids grants, I am proud to have secured numerous legislative victories that will improve health and quality of life in Washington state.
I authored and passed legislation to allow WSU to establish a medical school based in Spokane. Start-up funding was included in the state budget, and WSU is already moving forward with the accreditation process.
A new WSU medical school will bring jobs and resources to our community while addressing doctor shortages in rural and underserved areas. The potential for economic development through innovative research is also exciting. This is significant to me in light of the recent passing of WSU’s president, Dr. Elson Floyd, who was a tireless advocate for the new school. You can hear my remarks on President Floyd here.
I spearheaded and passed several other bills that will support better health for children and families across the state, such as:
- A bill that will save lives by ensuring all newborns are screened for Critical Congenital Heart Defects,
- Legislation to expand access to low-cost prescription drugs so that people can get the treatment they need, and
- Companion legislation for a bill that will ensure access to developmental and autism screenings for children regardless of their families’ income.
It has been a privilege to work with advocates and community members to make Washington a healthier place to live.
I also want to highlight some areas where we came up short. I was disappointed that we were not able to pass Sheena & Chris Henderson’s Law, a bill that I brought forward to improve suicide risk evaluations in response to a tragic suicide-homicide that took place in Spokane July 2014.
Fortunately, we were able to pass my seatmate Senator Billig’s legislation based on the same incident, which will establish a protocol for the return of a firearm in possession of law enforcement. We also invested $100 million to begin to repair our broken mental health system. I am proud of these improvements, but we still have a long way to go to protect families in a crisis.
I am also frustrated that my legislation protecting workers from wage theft as a result of unfair labor practices didn’t make it to the governor’s desk. A shocking number of workers are denied wages for the work they perform. When some employers don’t play by the rules and misclassify workers to deny them their legally-required benefits, it hurts working families and stacks the deck against businesses that want to play fair.
I’m proud to have worked with you on a number of projects and policies that will create jobs and improve quality of life in our state. But we have plenty of work left to do, and I will continue to need your help and input. I look forward to working with you to make our city and state a better place for families and communities.
It is an honor to serve you.
Representative Marcus Riccelli
3rd Legislative District – Spokane