Thanks to those of you who came to our town hall meetings on Saturday, March 11. We learned a lot. It is an honor to serve the 22nd Legislative District and the more we hear from you, the better job we can do.
We are now in week 11 of the legislative session. Bills that passed the House need to be out of the Senate policy committee on Wednesday March 29. Work on the transportation, capital and operating budgets is in full swing.
We are proud to be part of the House Democratic caucus that released a budget putting families first.
People in our district and across the state have asked us to improve education, make college affordable, create thriving communities, protect the environment and increase access to quality health care. This budget is a good faith effort to meet those needs and provide quality service to the people of Washington.
The House Democratic budget fully funds education by investing in our kids and in our teachers. Our budget invests $7.1 billion in additional dollars for our K-12 schools. We put that money towards placing high-quality teachers in every classroom, giving students the education they deserve, and keeping our promise to fully funding education. And, we end the local school district reliance on levies to make up for funding shortfalls.
Education is our primary focus this year, but it’s certainly not our only focus. Our ‘families first’ budget makes key investments in early learning, higher education, critical human services, housing, civil legal aid, the environment and quality care for our aging population and people with developmental disabilities.
We’re investing in a future that keeps Washington a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
You can read more about our budget proposal here.
We have known all along that there wasn’t enough revenue to create an exceptional education system without cutting some or all of the critical state services mentioned above. Even our Republican colleagues agree that more money is needed, and in addition to deep cuts to state services, they proposed a $5.5 billion property tax increase to fund their budget.
With the revenue tools we have available to us in this state, this proposal starts the process of moving the most regressive tax code in the nation toward a system that shifts the burden away from lower and middle income families.
So what’s next? Now that both chambers have introduced budget and revenue plans, both sides will start negotiating a compromise solution to send to the Governor. We remain committed to supporting your values and the values of Washington throughout the negotiation process.
Representative Doglio bill update
Many of you have contacted me about the following bills that are still in the mix:
- Paid family leave (SHB 1116)
- The solar incentive bill (SHB 1048)
- Pregnancy accommodation (ESHBB 1796)
- Pay equity (EHB 1506)
- The carbon tax (HB 1646).
I am proud to say that my Legislative Assistant, Danielle Westbrook, wrote a resolution recognizing International Women’s Day that passed with bi-partisan support. Thank you to Representative Gina McCabe for co-sponsoring the resolution and for helping shepherd it through the process. Click here to view the floor speeches we gave in honor of this important day for women everywhere.
In an effort to maintain the Public Works Assistance account that provides affordable loans to our municipalities for clean water. waste water and other critical infrastructure, I recently managed a bi-partisan process working on HB 1677.
Representative Dolan bill update
I was delighted that the PEBB Medicare-eligible retiree subsidy was increased in the House Democratic budget from $150 to $183 per retiree per month for the 2017-19 biennium. Rep Norm Johnson and I also sponsored HB 1484 to reinstate a COLA for TRS 1 and PERS 1 retirees, our oldest and least well-paid retirees. My goal is to create new revenue sources for the state by next year, then once again sponsor new legislation for a COLA.
SHB 1344 – Thurston County Courthouse. If Thurston County voters decide they want to build a new court house, this bill would give us the opportunity to finance the new building over a 25 year period. The bill is now in Senate Ways and Means, with a hearing scheduled for 3/30 at 1:30pm.
EHB 1913 – Back in 2008 when the great recession was in full swing, many community and technical colleges made the decision to lease out their bookstores, food service and some maintenance and operation functions. This bill asks the state to create a tax exemption for these leasehold interests. Without the tax exemption, students will need to pay more for their textbooks and food. . . as much as $35/book for a math or science textbook.
This bill is also in Senate Ways and Means.