Washington State House Democrats


End of session: Major investments in education, homelessness, mental health

Last month, the House and Senate voted to pass a budget to move forward on many of the state’s most pressing needs. Yes, it took 19 days of special session to reach that agreement, but our time here was worth it. Instead of passing a budget that hurt mental health and failed to make investments in education, we passed a budget that moved our state forward without compromising our values.

Sine Die Values Graphic

House Democrats had four major priorities in our original budget proposal:

  • Address the teacher shortage crisis.
  • Continue critical investments in state and community mental health services.
  • Help homeless families, kids, and veterans get into stable housing.
  • Improve the lives of foster kids.

This budget makes key investments in each of these areas.

It’s not everything we wanted, of course. That’s the reality of a divided government – the only path forward is through compromise.

But it is a path forward. And it sets the stage for the challenges ahead next session when the Legislature must adopt a solution to end the state’s reliance on local levies and fully fund basic education.

A budget is a statement of our values. It isn’t enough to stand up for policies that support our kids and families, we also need to stand up for funding these policies. The budget we passed last month gets us a little closer to a Washington that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

Construction budget delivers big for us

There are a lot of pressing needs in our area, including fixing major problems at Western State Hospital, replacing the Ponders Wellfield water treatment plant in Lakewood, and other improvements that have been put off for too long.

I am proud to have led the way on many improvements in our supplemental state construction budget.

As we all saw this past week with the events at Western State Hospital, our mental health care system has suffered. These events aren’t isolated, and are indicative of greater problems at the state mental health hospital. That’s why we need to make sure that the staff, and the patients, at our state hospitals are safe. We need to identify and treat offenders whose violence is related to mental illness. And we need to make sure our facilities are safe and secure. I made sure our budget includes $950,000 for new competency restoration beds, $450,000 for a new civil ward, and more than $1 million in other funding to get Western State on track.

We’re also funding $257,000 to pave and stripe the gravel parking lot at Fort Steilacoom Park. And we’re replacing the aging water treatment plant serving Ponders Wellfield and other 28th legislative district residents, so we don’t have another water crisis like in Flint, Michigan.

Take a look at the map below to see some of the other projects I voted to pass this year.

2016 capital budget supplemental

Meet my new legislative assistant!

Arielle Williams has joined my office as my new legislative assistant. Arielle is from University Place, and attended Chambers Primary, St. Charles Borromeo, Curtis Jr. and Senior High, and UW Tacoma. She’s excited to be serving the 28th Legislative District and I’m happy to have her on my team!

It continues to be the highest honor to represent you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me on any issues, questions or concerns.