We are now in our fourth week of the 2018 Legislative Session. This is a critical week here in the Legislature as we near policy cutoff for bills being heard in committee. We are moving at break neck speed and I am proud of what we have accomplished so far. Here is an update of some of those accomplishments.
House passes construction budget with a record $1 billion to build schools
The new $4 billion-plus capital budget passed by the House and Senate will creates thousands of jobs in every corner of the state—and it includes a record $1 billion to build public schools and $800 million to build colleges and universities
Investments in the 38th District:
- $2,073 million for Cocoon House
- $1 million for the Ebey Waterfront Trail and Shoreline Access in Marysville
- $2,760 million for Hopeworks Center in Everett
- $2 million Everett Pathways to Medical Education at Everett High School
Statewide, here are some details about the education projects in the plan:
- $15.5 million to build Early Learning facilities
- $30 million for rural and distressed K-12 schools
- $800 million for state colleges and universities, with $433 million for community and technical colleges
- $15 million for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) grants at K-12 schools
Part of the philosophy of the state construction budget is to get maximum value for taxpayers by leveraging as much local and federal funding as possible for each project. The proposed capital budget leverages more than $600 million in additional non-state funding just in the natural resources area alone. The school construction funding also requires a local match by school districts.
In cooperation with new investments in the House operating budget, the construction proposal would put $165 million toward fixing the state’s mental health crisis. That funding includes:
- $76 million for Community Behavioral Health capacity
- $58 million for construction and renovation at state facilities
- $24m for supportive housing for the chronically mentally ill
Finally, the budget puts serious funding toward housing, clean energy, arts and dental care:
- $105 million for Housing
- $65 million for Clean Energy, Solar, and Energy Efficiency
- $49 million for Arts, Building Communities, and Youth Recreation programs
- $14 million for Dental capacity and residency
A solution for our state’s looming long-term care crisis
Every day, an average of 10,000 people across our nation turn 65, a pace that will continue for the next two decades. Yet here in Washington state, long-term care continues to be inaccessible and unaffordable for too many people. That’s why a bipartisan solution called the Long-Term Care Trust Act (House Bill 2533) is gaining momentum. A recent Everett Herald editorial supports this act as a way to provide long-term care for all.
The Long-Term Care Trust Act creates a long-term care insurance benefit to help seniors and their families pay for long-term care services and supports. Funds from a one-half of one percent payroll deduction on all workers would be distributed through a program overseen by a public-private commission. Those vested in the program would receive 365 days’ worth of benefits at $100/day, which could be used consecutively or non-consecutively. Coverage could be used with any certified provider including in-home care aides, adult family homes, assisted living, or skilled-nursing facilities.
What would that look like? Let’s say Jane retires at 65 with little savings, but a retirement plan from work. Everything’s going well, until dementia starts to set in and her kids realize she needs someone to help her with some daily activities. Because Jane paid into the trust and became vested while she was working, she’s guaranteed some money to help pay for this care. This takes some of the burden off her kids, keeps her in her home and helps protect her from having to use up her entire retirement savings.
The Long-Term Care Trust Act had passed out of the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness this week.
What I am hearing from you
Many of you have contacted me by email regarding House Bill 1831, which revises exemptions for personal resources used in determining eligibility for public assistance
This bill prevents financial emergencies from turning into long term poverty. Resources, like a car or modest savings, are critical to regaining financial independence. In this bill, the resources exempted when determining eligibility for public assistance are revised to include: one motor vehicle, other than a motor home, with an equity value of up to $10,000; and all other resources up to $6,000 or other limit set by the DSHS consistent with federal requirements.
HB 1831 was introduced in the 2017 Legislative Session, but did not make it out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in time. The bill was re-introduced this year and is making good progress. It is now on the House Floor calendar awaiting a vote.
Thank you for taking the time to read about what is happening here in Olympia. I value and welcome your comments as we navigate through this challenging 60 day session. Please feel free to contact my office directly at 360-786-7864 or by email at June.Robinson@leg.wa.gov.