Washington State House Democrats


Sells’ 2/25/17 Update: Funding Education / Executive Order / Transgender Students / Capitol Ideas

Keeping our promise to one million school kids

This week the House of Representatives approved HB 1843 to ensure our schools are fully funded and every child receives opportunities to learn. Every element of this legislation was driven by a simple question: What’s best for kids?  And that’s why I was a proud YES vote for House Bill 1843.


Closing the opportunity gap

Our plan takes a significant step toward closing the opportunity gap and improving student outcomes in Washington state by making new investments in:

  • Learning assistance to help struggling students keep up with their peers
  • Transitional programs to help bilingual students
  • Class-size reductions for career and technical education and skill centers
  • Parent-involvement coordinators and guidance counselors

A high quality teacher in every classroom

The bill addresses the teacher-shortage crisis through educator recruitment and retention investments by making a serious commitment to our educator workforce:

  • Paying new teachers a fair salary
  • Providing additional professional learning opportunities
  • Ensuring their compensation keeps up with market rates

The Senate Republican plan is wrong for kids

The bill that came out of the Senate on a party-line vote has some troubling provisions that I cannot support because it:

  • Cuts learning support services for low-income kids
  • Reduces teacher pay over time, or increases class sizes, or both
  • Eliminates local levies for a year, which will significantly impact after-school programs, sports, clubs, music, and other locally-approved education enhancements
  • Reduces local levy capacity by about two-thirds

Both sides agree new revenue is needed

Neither plan can be done within existing revenue sources, that’s a point in which both Democrats and Republicans agree.

The House plan is estimated to cost roughly $7.5 billion over the next four years. In the coming weeks, lawmakers will unveil previously discussed ideas to pay for this proposal, including taxing corporate polluters, out-of-state businesses taking advantage of outdated and wasteful tax exemptions, and capital gains of wealthy investors.

The Senate plan is estimated to cost $8.8 billion over the next four years. It largely relies on a massive property tax hike on middle-class and working families, mostly in King County and the Puget Sound region. And even with the property tax increase, it still falls roughly $2.5 billion short of balancing, meaning Republicans must propose cuts to other state services like higher education, public safety, foster care, low-income health care, and housing.

Now that each side has offered proposals, negotiators will work on a path toward compromise that will ensure public schools are fully funded for Washington’s one million school kids.

Governor Inslee’s Executive Order

On Thursday, our governor issued this Executive Order (video available here) reaffirming Washington state values: diversity, freedom from discrimination, and celebration of a culture that welcomes all.

Inslee EO

As Gov. Jay Inslee’s order points out, Washington state relies on immigrants. Nearly one in seven people in this state are immigrants and they are a vital part of our workforce. Immigrants, who are our neighbors, friends, and family members, contributed more than $2.4 billion in state and local taxes in 2014. Sixty percent of the Fortune 500 companies in Washington were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

We have succeeded as a state not by rejecting their valuable contributions, but by embracing them.

The governor’s order reaffirms our laws and values regarding immigration, non-discrimination, and providing assistance and services to all Washingtonians, regardless of their legal status. Because that’s who we are. We take care of one another. We don’t turn on each other and blame each other. Washingtonians work together to make this a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

Gov. Inslee’s order also includes a directive that prohibits any state law enforcement officer from entering into an agreement with the federal government, including ICE, to enforce federal immigration laws. It’s important that immigrants, regardless of legal status, can go to law enforcement to report crimes and cooperate with our state agencies without fear of having their lives turned upside down.

This order is in line with similar actions that House Democrats are taking, as you’ll recall from last week’s newsletter.

Standing against discrimination in our schools

The Trump Administration just removed federal protections for transgender students, which rolled back guidelines issued last year allowing transgender students to use restrooms matching their gender identity.

My heart aches for the countless students and their families whose lives will be distressed by this ill-considered and unnecessary decision. However, I’m grateful and proud to live and to serve in a state that refuses to be bullied into taking actions that punish innocent young people simply for being who they are.

Transgender students in Washington have had, and will continue to have, the right to use facilities for the gender they identify as, and to be safe in the process. In this statement, Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal was clear that the federal actions will not affect the protections transgender students have under Washington state law. Those rights derive from our state’s civil-rights laws. They were not bestowed by the previous federal administration, and they will not be taken away by this one. Washington state will continue to stand against discrimination and ensure every student feels safe and welcome in our public schools.

Capitol Ideas – a behind-the-scenes peek at your Legislature

The Capitol Ideas podcast released a new episode last week: Asking Rep. June Robinson: What, exactly, is public health? In it, Rep. June Robinson, my seatmate in the 38th legislative district, answers questions about what “public health” refers to and how it keeps our communities healthy.

Capitol Ideas

Rep. Robinson serves on the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee, and in her non-legislative life she works for Public Health of Seattle-King County.

Find other great episodes of the Capitol Ideas podcast clicking this link for a list of more than two dozen interviews.

Capitol Ideas is also available on iTunes where you can access the whole series.

Thank you for reading my newsletter. Be sure to contact my office if you need additional information on any of the issues discussed here, if you have questions or concerns, or if you have any feedback for me.