Bipartisan budget has big wins for 28th District
I made a short video to share the highlights of the new budget, so please watch by clicking the image below, or scroll down and read more about the budget and my thoughts on the outcome of this year’s negotiated plan.
A budget is a reflection of shared values. In our district, we want to keep communities safe and invest in those areas that are lagging behind. We know that family members and loved ones who are struggling with mental health issues need help and that our state hospitals, like Western State, must be funded, the staff need to be fairly compensated, and those who reside and work there need to be safe. We must also ensure that our children receive the best education in the state.
This year, Democrats fought hard against cuts proposed by Senate Republicans to state hospitals, home care worker health benefits, temporary assistance for needy families, food assistance grants, services for clients with disabilities, housing and essential needs, homelessness programs, state worker benefits, and family services.
I opposed these cuts and changes because they don’t reflect our values. Washingtonians don’t abandon their neighbors in need; we help them. We put families first because that’s who matters.
The budget we passed last week puts families first. We did so by fully funding education, taking care of children in need, keeping families healthy, fighting homelessness, and ensuring a responsive and accountable government. Here’s what we accomplished:
- $7.3 billion in new funding for K-12 education, and keeping 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 struggling students.
- Expansion of 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 agency focused on what is best for children including reforming our foster care system and improving social worker caseloads.
- Paying state workers a fair wage, so we can compete for a high-quality workforce that serves the public.
The new funding in this budget comes mostly through property tax increases on the wealthier areas, like King County. For our area, property owners will see a net decrease in property taxes over the next few years. By requiring property-rich districts, like Mercer Island, to pay more of their fair share of taxes, we were able to cut property taxes in the 28th and address a longstanding inequity in the system.
While we are lowering property taxes in Pierce County, the budget deal also brings more dollars to our local schools. For instance, the new budget and education funding plan includes nearly $6 million in new funding for schools by 2020-21 for University Place. Other districts receive significant increases as well.
I am proud to have voted for a budget that funds education, keeps the government open, and responds to your needs. It was not an easy process and it took far longer than we wanted, but the result is a budget that works for all Washingtonians.
Sound Transit Update
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any movement from Senate Republicans on passing the bipartisan ST3 car tab taxes fix that the House has passed multiple times. The House solution is the only bipartisan plan and received votes from every legislator in the Sound Transit taxing areas. I hope that the Senate will agree to our bipartisan compromise to put real money back into your pockets and address the ST3 car tab problem.
Important projects for our region at risk
The House passed a capital budget, which would create 75,000 jobs throughout Washington state. This important budget funds millions of dollars in projects in the 28th district. I fought for several projects, including $2 million for JBLM’s North Clear Zone and $1 million for a new Traumatic Brain Injury center on base. The North Clear Zone will help ensure public and air safety in the event of an aircraft accident. The investment in the new center will help complete its construction so servicemembers and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries will get the care they need and deserve.
Also funded in the capital budget are millions of dollars in needed improvements and repairs at Western State Hospital, as well as community and technical college upgrades.
Finally, funding to complete the Ponders Water Treatment plant for the Lakewood Water District needs to be approved in order to avoid delays in completion and increased costs in the future.
Unfortunately, the capital budget is stalled in the Senate. If you think these projects are important and should pass the Senate, call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and let your state senator know the capital budget needs to come up for a final vote.
Thank you for the honor of serving as your State Representative.