Washington v. Trump’s Executive Order
President Trump’s executive order that restricted all refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries was a shock. As the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, and a member of a religious minority, I was outraged by this un-American action.
I was heartened, however, by the massive public protests at airports across the country and the condemnation of the order from legal scholars.
And what a thrill that Washington State successfully sued the federal government for a temporary halt on the ban! Thank you Attorney General Ferguson for your swift action!
In Washington state, and in our district, we enjoy world-renowned businesses that employ a workforce that thrives from the presence of immigrants from around the world. They contribute to our state’s economy–in technology, agriculture, education, medicine—culture and community. While we all share in the desire to protect the country from its enemies, well-vetted immigrants and refugees fleeing war-torn and dangerous parts of the world aren’t a threat.
In the upcoming days and weeks I will be working with my colleagues to find ways that the state legislature can address this issue and make sure we are standing up for our core American values.
Senate education funding bill falls short
While the complex layers of the proposal are being unwrapped, there are some elements that will clearly be concerning to parents, students, teachers, and taxpayers.
Here are just a few of the problems with the Senate Republican plan:
- Hurts kids from low-income families
Instead of helping kids from low-income families, the Senate Republican plan changes the definition of low-income and reduces learning supports for those students. This would have a devastating impact on the nearly 500,000 kids that currently quality for free or reduced lunch. (And it would count poverty by census track, not by school building. Bellevue lost all of its Head Start funding for a similar reason.)
- Cuts to special education.
Overall funding for special education would be cut in the Senate Republican Plan. Seattle Public Schools have estimated special education funding for the district would be reduced by approximately $50 million.
- Teacher pay cuts
The Senate Republicans set an arbitrary cap on total teacher compensation, so as health care and pension costs increase over time, schools will be forced to cut teacher salaries or increase class sizes. Or both.
- Lowers the standards for becoming a teacher
The Senate Republican plan removes teacher certification requirements and would allow anyone who passes a background check to become a teacher. This will result in unqualified teachers in our classrooms and will only make the teacher shortage crisis worse.
- Say goodbye to voter-approved levies
The Senate Republican plan would prohibit local voter-approved levies for a year. There would be NO local levy allowed for 2019, meaning school districts would be forced to make dramatic cuts to after school programs, clubs, band, sports, and other educational enhancements. When the levy authority is restored, districts would only be able to raise a fraction of what they can now.
- Huge property tax Increase
Their revenue plan imposes huge property tax increases in areas like Bellevue and Mercer Island and gives huge tax breaks to rural and Eastern Washington property owners. It raises very little money to solve the overall $3.5 billion problem.
- Guts the state budget
A provision in the Senate Republican plan would force cuts to critical state services like mental health, prisons, foster care, and food assistance in order to buy back their huge property tax increases.
- Punt to the voters
The Senate Republican would be subject to a referendum by the voters this fall. What if it fails? Solving the education funding challenge is the Legislature’s job. I’m not putting the state’s paramount duty up for a vote.
While I’m glad they put something on the table, the Senate Republican proposal is bad for students.
We cannot adopt an education funding policy that reduces education funding for even one school district. I’ll keep you posted as negotiations continue.
The business of childcare
Washington State has been a leader in supporting investments in quality early learning. And by 2020, the state must provide early learning, or Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), to low-income kids across the state. To meet this demand, we will need to increase the number and geographic spread of providers. Many childcare businesses are run by people who truly care about children and providing a quality early learning experience. However, many do not have the skills or experience to run their small business. When childcare providers have to close or downsize, the children are the ones who truly suffer.
To help stabilize existing providers and develop more quality childcare options for families, I have proposed HB 1758. The bill expands training for childcare providers on managing a business and on how to participate in ECEAP. In this way, we hope to support small businesses, expand early learning and provide stability for children and early learning providers.
I hope everyone enjoyed their snow days! I’ll be sending more updates soon, but in the meantime feel free to reach out if you have any thoughts, questions, or comments!
Rep. Tana Senn