Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you may know, the Washington State Legislature convened in Olympia today for the scheduled 60-day session. I’m honored to represent the 47th legislative district in the House of Representatives. As the House Majority Leader, I wanted to give you an idea of what to expect this session.
During the second year of a two-year budget cycle, the Legislature meets to make needed adjustments to the operating, transportation, and capital (construction) budgets. These changes are based on updated forecasts for student population, health care costs, and other budgetary demands. These are supplemental budgets to the biennial budget we adopt in odd-numbered years.
Education continues to be the most important issue as the Legislature deals with how it pays for K-12 education, and how local school districts use levy money. More than 30 years ago, past legislatures began using local money to help pay for things the state should have covered. During the interim, I served on the Governor’s work group with Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate to develop a plan to solve this problem.
Mental health care services are another concern. During our economic downturn, many services were reduced to help balance the budget. The result has been terrible for people who suffer from mental health issues and their loved ones. We began restoring needed funding last year, but more needs to be done, especially in the area of children’s mental health. I’ve heard from many constituents that trying get their children help has been nearly impossible.
The Department of Corrections’ mistaken early release of some offenders is very troubling. I was stunned and angered to learn Corrections had known about this problem for many years without fixing the calculations used to compute good time earned. The House and Senate will be holding hearings this session to learn exactly what happened, why, and how it can be fixed so this doesn’t happen again.
I’ll keep you posted as the session unfolds. If you have thoughts or ideas on issues you would like to see addressed, please feel free to contact me by email or by phone. My number in Olympia is 360-786-7858.
Best wishes in the New Year!