Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Orwall’s 7/7/17 update: Operating Budget & Education Funding / Air Quality Study / Paid Family Leave


Operating Budget & Education Funding

As you know, last week we averted a government shutdown by finally passing the operating budget in the nick of time. I’m pleased that a final budget was reached, which meant that both sides had to compromise.  We made large investments in education but I was disappointed that we sought new revenue by increases to property taxes versus sources like capital gains tax that does not impact working families.

In our district we will see an increase in our property taxes next year, but a decrease the following years. For estimates on figures, check out the chart in this Seattle Times article, and you can also get a more in depth look in this property tax/enrichment levy district-by-district analysis.  Our school districts will receive significant increases in revenue from these changes.

I am also proud that we were able to fully fund education without cuts to essential services. We were able to compromise and ended up with a budget that provides schools the funding they need to give our children the education they deserve, maintains the safety net for those needing assistance, and funds state contracts.

  • $7.3 billion in new funding for K-12 education, keeping our promise to 1.1 million schoolchildren by investing in teacher salaries, professional development, para-educators, 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.

For more information, below are the 2017-19 budget details provided by nonpartisan staff:

OPR (nonpartisan) Summary document: https://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2017/hoSummary_0630.pdf

Agency Detail: https://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2017/hoAgyDetail_0630.pdf

Four-Year Budget Outlook: https://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2017/hoOutlook_0630.pdf

Budget bill (PSSB 5883): https://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2017/hoBill_0630.pdf

Brief summary of the K-12 basic education program allocations and additional support funding in the budget


Funding for Sea-Tac air quality study in the budget

Sea-Tac Airport is one of the fastest growing in the nation with 3.4 million more passengers last year than in 2015, and all that air traffic may be having an adverse effect on people who live in surrounding areas.

I believe it’s important that we know the risks involved, so I introduced a bill calling for a UW air quality study.  It didn’t garner the necessary support to move forward, so I looked for a different path and working with colleagues was able to get $250,000 in the Operating Budget to fund the study of the environmental impacts, including ultrafine particulate matter air pollution, associated with aircraft traffic at Sea-Tac Airport.

This is a first, but critical, step to find out how the airport activity is affecting our communities. It’s only the start, though I am confident that when the UW School of Public Health comes back to the legislature in December of 2019 with its findings and recommendations, we will delve deeper into the issue to find ways to mitigate the adverse effects.

For more information, please click here.

Washington state makes history with new paid family leave program

This Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5975, which passed the legislature with strong bipartisan support last week. With this law, Washington became the fifth state in the nation to set up a paid family and medical leave program for workers.


Starting in 2020, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program will provide workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a baby or an ailing family member, and up to 12 weeks to tend to personal illnesses. Total annual leave will be capped at 16 weeks, or 18 weeks for difficult pregnancies.

Depending on their earnings, workers can be granted up to 90 percent of their pay or up to $1,000 per week during their leave. To fund the program, both employers and employees will pay into the social insurance fund, and businesses with 50 or fewer employees can opt out.

This comprehensive, practical and affordable plan for both workers and businesses will foster stronger families and a secure middle class.

Click here for more information.

While we did pass the budget last week, we are still in session working on several pending issues, but we are not in Olympia every day. So if there’s something in your mind that you’d like to discuss, or you just want to meet for coffee, feel free to contact my district office at 206-824-5097.