Washington State House Democrats


Education, military spouses, and Western State Hospital

The Democratic plan for fully funding education

While the Legislature has made significant albeit slow progress in recent years with increasing education funding – nearly $5 billion in new investments since 2011 – the state still has more work to do to keep our promise to fully and fairly fund public schools. House and Senate Democrats are working on solutions that will give schools the resources they need to provide opportunities to learn for all 1.1 million public school children in Washington.

What Democrats are proposing finally meets the state’s constitutional obligation to fully fund education. Our plan will give local school districts the resources and flexibility they need to attract and retain high-quality teachers. We’re also making investments that will lower class sizes, help struggling students catch up with their peers, and put more guidance counselors and parent involvement coordinators in schools.

The Republican plan was rushed through the Senate without, I think, a fair amount of time to review and fix problems. First and foremost, it is subject to a referendum clause which means that we won’t know whether schools are funded until the end of this year, creating havoc with student learning and school budgets.  It also proposes creating a new state property tax costing $2.5 billion–up to $3 million in University Place, $5 million in Steilacoom, and $3 million in Lakewood. And it requires cuts to the budget, originally estimated at about $1.4 billion, but that number will likely be much larger. The Senate Republican plan is silent on where those cuts will come from—health care, Western State hospital, or state patrol. Those are all possible areas that could see a budget cut in order to fund this plan.

You know that I am not wild about property taxes particularly since South Sound taxpayers currently pay a disproportionate burden of such taxes compared to others around the state. At the same time, I do not support increasing a regressive state sales tax or imposing a personal income tax. We can and must meet this long overdue constitutional obligation without unfairly burdening working families, those living on a fixed income, or small business while also making sure that our children have the resources they need to achieve academic success.

We are scheduled to vote on the Democratic education funding plan this Wednesday. I plan on standing up for our children, middle class families, working moms and dads by casting my vote for a plan that fully funds our schools.

Meeting with Chief Rodriguez of Steilacoom and Chief Zaro of Lakewood

Streamlining the professional license process for military spouses

For our military families, moving is a way of life. But that shouldn’t be an impediment to a career for spouses of our military service members. If a spouse of a service member has a professional license in their career field, having to apply and receive your license in a new state can be a hurdle.

I’ve introduced legislation that helps us monitor and update the process for licensing processes for vets and military spouses who have out-of-state professional licenses. Continuing a career path should be a simple process for our military families.

Western State Hospital

Fixing the mistakes at Western State is a top priority for the legislature this year. We know that new levels of oversight and management were needed—but it’s not the only thing lawmakers can do. Our mental health care team focuses on two areas.

First, we must make sure we have the appropriate number of people at the staff level taking care of patients, ensuring security, etc. The patients and staff at Western State must be safe. Having enough staff to handle emergencies, filling in for others for required breaks, and addressing changing needs is a key step in ensuring that safety.

Second, we need to make sure the hospital is a high-functioning workplace for the staff and other workers. Low morale negatively affects employee performance, leading to turnover and unsafe work conditions.

There will be more to share as the budget and mental health teams finalize their proposals and I’ll keep advocating for a safer, more accountable Western State Hospital.

Coming to a coffee shop near you!

In addition to my recent “Coffee with Christine,” I’ll be in DuPont on February 25 from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the Starbucks (1225 Center Drive, DuPont, WA 98327) and in University Place on March 4 from 10:00 a.m. to noon at Cutters Point (2700 Bridgeport Way G, University Place, WA 98466).

I’ll be hosting an in-district town hall meeting with Rep. Dick Muri on Sunday, March 12 at the Steilacoom Town Hall (1717 Lafayette St, Steilacoom, WA 98388) from 4:30-6pm. Doors open at 4 p.m. and we’d love to see you there!

Also, tonight I’m hosting my telephone town hall. If you want to call in and listen or ask questions, please use the information below!

Telephone Number: 877-229-8493

ID Code: 116283


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