Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Valdez e-Newsletter: Paid Family Leave / Operating Budget & Education Funding / Capital Budget

Dear friends,

I was appointed to fill the 46th Legislative District seat vacated by former Rep. Jessyn Farrell last month.  You can read about my appointment, as well as my committee assignments in this press release.


Originally from Moses Lake, I have called Seattle home for 29 years, and I am excited to serve you and represent your interests in Olympia.

During my second week at the state capital, Governor Inslee came over to the House Chamber to greet me with a small vase of flowers (they were our UW colors!) that had been hand-picked by his wife, Trudy, that morning. I can’t think of a better way to start in my new position.

I recently participated in a TVW project called “Legislator Profiles.” These are short 2 to 3 minute videos aimed at providing viewers some information on their lawmakers. Click on the image below to watch mine:

Valdez TVW Profile

Washington makes history with new paid family leave program

By passing Senate Bill 5975, Washington became the fifth state in the nation to set up a paid family and medical leave program for workers. When we voted on the bill, which passed with strong bipartisan endorsement, several of my colleagues and I stood up to speak in support of this important legislation. Click on the image below to watch my floor speech:

Vadez Paid leave speech

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.

Operating Budget & Education Funding

We averted a government shutdown that would have had disastrous consequences by finally passing the 2017-2019 operating budget. It’s good that both sides were able to compromise and reach an agreement on a budget that makes large investments in education.

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. The ones I had the biggest problems with were the B&O tax break for manufacturers and the Transalta tax break, thankfully, both were vetoed by Governor Inslee.

We ended up with a budget that embodies strong Democratic core values and puts families first by making great strides funding education, taking care of children in need, keeping families healthy, fighting homelessness, funding state contracts and ensuring a responsive government. These are the budget highlights:

  • $7.3 billion in new funding for K-12 education investments including 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:

Legislative Office of Program Research 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

Capital Budget

You may have heard that in the wee hours of July 1, the House of Representatives passed a Capital Budget on a 92-1 vote. It’s been sitting in the Republican-controlled Senate since then, which is why we are still on our third special session. If they don’t bring it to a vote, Washington state won’t have a construction budget this year.

The Capital Budget we sent over to the Senate funds $4.17 billion in construction projects around the state. Those projects are vital to our schools, universities, parks, the environment and our overall economy. Here is what’s at stake:

  • 75,000 jobs in construction, engineering and natural resources
  • A record $1 billion to build new public schools, which would help satisfy the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision to fully fund our schools—you can’t hire new teachers without building new classrooms for our state’s 1.1 million school kids
  • $800 million in projects at our colleges and universities
  • Local construction projects in every corner of the state
  • Affordable housing funding when the housing crisis is reaching its peak
  • Projects to bring safe, clean water to communities throughout Washington
46LD Capital Projects

Local projects

Right here in the 46th Legislative District, we stand to lose millions for important projects such as:

  • St Edward State Park Environmental Learning Center
  • Kenmore Public Boathouse
  • Magnuson Community Center
  • Moorlands Park
  • University YMCA

*School projects not included because those are funded in coordination with school districts.

Click on the map below for the full list of projects in and around our district:

You may also want to read this Seattle Times story on the possibility the UW may have to shut down construction to finish the new Burke Museum due to lack of funds if the Legislature doesn’t pass a Capital Budget.

Failing to pass a construction budget at all would be a first for Washington, and we’re quickly running out of time since this year’s construction season is well under way.

I am hopeful that we will return to Olympia before this third special session is over next Thursday to vote on the Capital Budget and Bonds so we can build new schools and projects across the state in the coming two years.

As stated earlier, we are still in special session, but we are not in Olympia every day. So if there’s something in your mind that you’d like to discuss, feel free to contact my district office at (206) 729-3255.


Valdez Sig