This was a whirlwind first week in Olympia, and while we did not accomplish everything we would have liked to in the first day, I am excited about our early progress and hopeful that we will see more progressive victories in the coming weeks.
First and foremost, that means passing a capital budget. It is essential that we pass one immediately so that we can break ground on crucial, shovel-ready projects like schools, hospitals and other community facilities. We need to pass one soon to meet deadlines for federal matching funds and other grants.
We in the House Democratic Caucus had planned to vote on the $4.3 billion capital budget on Tuesday, the second day of the 60-day legislative session. As a show of good faith to our Republican colleagues we have agreed to a slight delay. But we won’t postpone long because our state cannot wait for these investments.
Additionally, we must come up with a solution for car tabs that have proved prohibitively expensive for so many Seattle drivers. I have heard from many of my transit-conscious constituents this week and let me be clear: I understand the importance of light rail to our economy, our environment and our region. I voted for ST3, as did 36th district voters. I do not want to undercut Sound Transit’s funding and have no intention of supporting a bill that would prevent ST3 from moving forward.
But we must also be sensitive to the fact that many people already struggling with burdens like student loan debt and the rising cost of living in Seattle had trouble with the skyrocketing car tab fees caused by using the vehicle valuation system. We are working hard to find a solution.
There are other exciting things happening here at the capitol. I am sponsoring the Energy Independence Act so that this state can be a leader creating jobs in the clean energy sector while maintaining affordable rates for Washington. I’m hopeful that we will finally pass the Voting Rights Act and Equal Pay Act, and am encouraged by the prospects of passing meaningful legislation to improve our mental health care system and provide care and treatment for those struggling with opioid drug addiction.
We have some long days ahead of us and no doubt some big tests. But I know that my colleagues and I are up to the challenge.
Thank you for your support, and thank you so much for your energy toward creating a better, more progressive Washington.
Your voice in Olympia,
By the way, I will be posting on this blog throughout session. Please feel free to send me suggestions of topics for future posts. Send ideas to me by email at Gael.Tarleton@Leg.Wa.Gov.