Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Bergquist’s Legislative Update: Operating Budget passed; no government shutdown

As you may have heard, we managed to avert a government shutdown by passing the 2017-2019 operating budget late last night, so I figured I would send you a quick update on what it includes.

In the 11th Legislative District, this will mean increases in property tax bills for many families. While the final details are still emerging, it’s clear that Seattle, Renton and Issaquah school district households will pay hundreds of dollars more in property taxes each year. Homeowners in Tukwila and Kent may see a slight decrease.

The result of not obtaining a more progressive revenue package is that we continue to increase the tax burden on the middle class, which is extremely disappointing.

Unfortunately, most lawmakers, including myself, and the public had just a few hours to consider the final package as Republicans in our state Senate employed the stall tactics of Republicans in the other Washington. While this budget makes important investments in our public schools and other key social services, it hurts many families in our communities, so I voted against the additional corporate tax break proposal and the property tax increase in the education funding bill.

Our priority this year was to find a way to fully fund education and that’s what we did, even though it took going into three special sessions and a lot of back-and-forthing in negotiations. We were able to compromise in the end, so schools will have the funding they desperately need without us having to cut essential services.

A reflection of shared values

This budget embodies strong Democratic core values, but the Republican Senate repeatedly rejected the progressive revenue tax options we proposed. Republicans insisted on increasing property taxes. In the final compromise, we got a solid budget with many of our values, unfortunately, that budget could only come together with the property tax increases they wanted.

With this budget we put Families First by making great strides funding education, taking care of children in need, keeping families healthy, fighting homelessness, and ensuring a responsive government.

  • New funding for K-12 education(includes $1.1 billion in new funding over the next four years for our school districts in the 11th legislative district) keeps our promise to 1.1 million schoolchildren by investing in teacher salaries, professional development, paraeducators, class size reductions, learning assistance, special education, bilingual instruction, and low performing schools.
  • Expand early childhood education slots for low-income families across the state.
  • Boost in funding for the State Need Grant so students can get the financial aid they need to pursue their dreams.
  • More funding in mental health, public health, and acceptance of federal Medicaid funding to fight the opioid crisis, reduce homelessness rates, and integrate physical and behavioral health.
  • Providing high-quality care to our aging population and people with disabilities.
  • Increased funding for assistance programs to keep youth and families off the streets and for state food and temporary assistance to families in need.
  • Fully funding a new department to reform our foster care system and improving social worker workloads.
  • Paying state workers a fair wage, so we can compete for a high-quality workforce that serves the public.

You can read the budget documents and education policy changes in the links below:

This budget increases funding for education and keeps the government open and responsive to your needs. It wasn’t an easy process, it is not the ideal solution, and it took far longer than I wanted, but the end result is a budget that helps many of our state’s students and families.

Capital Budget Update

Earlier this morning we passed the capital budget re-appropriations bill–which continues existing projects–because Senate Republicans kept saying they would not act on the construction budget unless they got everything they wanted on the Hirst water issue (which is a completely different issue that can’t be as easily fixed as they say).

Then just a few minutes ago we passed the Capital Budget, which had been previously agreed on, and sent it over to the Senate. If the Senate does not pass it, about 250 state workers will be furloughed. The ball is on their court, I hope they do the right thing.

Take Advantage of Renton’s Great Neighborhood Program

I wanted to take this opportunity to let those of you who live in Renton know about the benefits this program has to offer.

As of last year, the population in Renton was about 101,300, up from 92,218 in 2010 and 51,485 in 2000. This dramatic increase has earned it a spot in the top ten most populated Washington cities list.

With so many people calling Renton home, it makes sense to encourage an open dialogue between residents and government. That’s why Renton created a Neighborhood Program that:

  • Supports community involvement making all neighborhoods better places to live
  • Fosters a sense of community by helping residents address specific concerns
  • Serves as a vehicle for building successful neighborhoods that reflect positively on the entire community

To participate in the program, neighborhoods must be officially recognized by the City of Renton. Do you live in one of the 72 Officially Recognized Neighborhoods? If not, you can submit an application. Once your neighborhood is officially recognized the City will provide:


  • A one-time City sponsored Neighborhood Block Party to celebrate newly adopted recognized neighborhoods
  • A volunteer City employee who serves as a liaison working with your neighborhood and provides a link to the departments and services of the City
  • Access to grant funding for projects that will improve the viability and livability of your neighborhood
  • Eligibility for funding and equipment for neighborhood Block Parties
  • Towing the Speed Monitoring Awareness Radar Trailer (SMART) to sites experiencing speed-related problems to make your neighborhood safer for kids, pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles
  • Leadership workshops and training
  • Information about your neighborhood, as it pertains to the Neighborhood Program, on the City’s website
  • Publicity for neighborhood events on Channel 21, the City’s cable access station, as they pertain to the Neighborhood Program

For more information on how your neighborhood can take advantage of these and other services, please visit the Neighborhood Program Website.