It is frustrating to me that this efficient collaborative approach was not present in undertaking the issues of meeting our constitutional mandate to fund our kids’ education, which is why we are in a special session, again.
Serious effort has been underway for many years to comply with the court’s decision, but this time the divide and the complexities were such, that certain members of the Senate put barriers up that meant they would not even come to the table. From the outside looking in, it makes no sense.
I came into this session knowing that our primary challenge was going to be how to pay for our constitutional mandate to fully fund education and to address the inequity of over-reliance on property taxes.
I support a balanced approach that doesn’t result in a more regressive system or that negatively impacts particular segments of the population or the business community. The Senate approach relied on a new statewide property tax that was both unfair and insufficient.
House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the governor all put forth budget proposals; I believe the House Democrats’ budget upholds our values. To reach a final solution we have to agree on how to fund our schools, but also on what we’ll invest in early learning and higher education, as well as health care, eldercare, services for people with disabilities and other critical programs.
As negotiations continue in Olympia, most of the legislators are now in our home districts, and I believe most of us are not collecting per diem, out of conviction, on the days we’re not at the State Capitol.
I’ll keep you posted on any developments regarding the budget.
Having passed both chambers, the bipartisan transportation budget has been delivered to Governor Inslee and is awaiting his signature.
This year was my first session as a member of the transportation budget team and as vice-chair of the Transportation Committee. I am proud of the work we did truly collaborating across the aisle and across the rotunda on a budget that will allocate approximately $8.7 billion in much needed funding to our state’s transportation network, including initial funding to begin working on replacing the I-5 Bridge.
The construction portion of the budget helps maintain our transportation infrastructure, supports jobs, and addresses key traffic and transportation problems that affect working families all over the state.
It secures over $3 billion for highway projects including maintenance and preservation of the system, additional funds to continue removing culverts to improve fish passage, funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects across the state, and completing a fourth 144-car ferry.
The transportation budget also includes an operating portion that provides funding for ferries, Washington State Patrol trooper training, Department of Licensing operations, investments in information technology upgrades, and fully funds the state employee contracts.
Click on this interactive map for information on all the transportation projects statewide, or you can also check out this map and list of projects in our district, including completion of critical projects in Clark County.
This budget moves our state economy forward by addressing our transportation needs and taking into account Washington’s population growth.
Keep informed, stay active and participate
One of the advantages of living in this day and age is having instant access to information right at our fingertips, and I’m not just talking about getting the news. What about simply learning what’s happening around town and getting involved?
We have a strong sense of community in the 49th district, and civic participation plays a pivotal role in getting things done.
As the days get longer heading into summer, if you feel like doing something but don’t know what, you could check out some well-maintained websites packed with information that is generally up to date. For instance, the City of Vancouver, the Clark County and the Washington State websites offer a lot of information on news and services, but also events, workshops and activities that may be of interest to you. They’re worth a visit.
There will be more information forthcoming about how to stay involved and informed on our effort to replace the I-5 Bridge, which is one of the most important transportation projects on the West Coast. Let me know if you want to be invited to meetings or presentations.
As I mentioned earlier, I am now back in Vancouver most of the time and there’s more flexibility in my schedule to spend time with constituents. If you want to reach me or schedule a meeting, Megan Walsh, my Legislative Assistant, will be happy to help and, of course, please feel free to email me anytime with your comments or concerns.