The House released its “Families First” state operating budget this week, and I am very proud of it! It represents our shared values by fully funding K-12 schools, helping working families, continuing to fix our mental health system, closing the opportunity gap, and supporting at-risk youth.
Highlights included in our budget proposal:
- Adds $7.1 billion in additional K-12 investments over the next four years and will bring the state in full compliance on fully funding basic education
- Invests $400 million in Higher education i to freeze college tuition at current levels for all students and provides State Need Grant assistance to 6,000 additional students.
- Provides $106 million for expansion of quality early learning programs and childcare resources for working families.
- Invests $350 million in mental health to better integrate our health systems and ensure that people, especially children, get the help they need in their time of crisis.
- Adds $428 million in health care investments for public health, long-term care, and fighting back on the growing opioid crisis.
Our budget proposal includes a revenue package that takes a step toward fixing our state’s regressive tax system and generates the revenue needed to pay for public schools and essential state services. I have some concerns on the package but I think it’s a starting point as we explore funding options.
Now that the governor and both chambers have released their budget proposals, budget writers from the House and Senate will come together to begin negotiating a final, compromise budget.
As the process continues, I will continue to advocate for our community.
Update on my bills
Several of my bills are progressing in the Senate! I’m pleased that these bills had public hearings and have passed out of Senate policy committees:
- HB 1079 protects victims by allowing criminal no-contact orders against their traffickers, who often use threats or coercion to manipulate their victims
- HB 1109relates tosupporting victims of sexual assault
- HB 1169 the Student Opportunity, Assistance, and Relief (SOAR) Act, will provide education and relief on student loan debt
- HB 1170 makes a variety of changes with respect to school and court processes regarding truancy
- HB 1612 relates to creating a fund for a Suicide-Safer Homes public education platform
- HB 2057 makes some needed fixes to the Foreclosure Fairness Act (FFA)
I’m hoping these bills continue to make their way through the legislative process.
Last November, voters approved Sound Transit 3 (ST3) to expand regional light rail and ease congestion. The initiative included a motor vehicle excise tax increase.
Over the past few weeks, car owners have been receiving their car tab renewals, many with a significantly higher charge than in previous years. I share constituents’ concern with the shockingly large increases to our car tab fees.
In addition, the Department of Licensing believes a number of vehicles may have been valued incorrectly due to errors when they were titled, or incorrect values reported from dealers.
However, any significant changes to the approved initiative could reduce ST3 funding and delay or jeopardize projects that many have already complained will take too long to complete.
In response to these and other issues surrounding ST3, House Democrats have introduced five pieces of legislation to offer relief, rebates, and reform.
- Relief on car values—House Bill 2147 changes the way Sound Transit values cars to make depreciation happen on a faster schedule, resulting in lower costs to taxpayers. I co-sponsored this bill.
- Rebates—House Bill 2148 allows Sound Transit to offer a rebate of up to 40 percent on car tab charges for low-income vehicle owners and a similar rebate on the property tax charge for Sound Transit 3. I am a co-sponsor of this bill.
- Accountability—House Bill 2149 requires the Department of Licensing to send information on the budget and status of Sound Transit projects when it sends annual vehicle renewal and registration. This would include links to websites where vehicle owners can learn more, providing information and accountability directly to the taxpayer.
- On time and on budget— House Bill 2150 requires a similar taxpayer accountability statement to property taxpayers by directing county auditors to provide information on the status of Sound Transit projects.
- Working together—House Bill 2151 directs transit agencies to improve coordination with Sound Transit and other agencies and show measurable progress as they integrate service with Sound Transit.
We will continue working to improve the system and introduce more accountability without jeopardizing the funding of mass transit projects that people voted for and our state needs.
If you believe or have proof that your car is being valued incorrectly, call the Department of Licensing at 360-902-3770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local student wins Poison Prevention Week Poster contest!
Jason Ho, an 11 year-old fifth grader from Parkside Elementary School in Des Moines, is this year’s winner of Washington Poison Center’s annual statewide Poison Prevention Week Poster Contest. Jason and his family, along with “Mr. Yuk”, made a trip to Olympia to visit with legislators. Rep. Mia Gregerson and I joined them for a picture.
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