Washington State House Democrats


Workforce shortages, housing priorities for Washington House Democrats

OLYMPIA – The 2023 legislative session got underway in Olympia today, the first time since 2020 that lawmakers gathered fully in person.

Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) was elected by the chamber to the top leadership post for a third time. In prepared remarks, Jinkins stressed that many of the challenges legislators will be working to resolve are connected to workforce shortages that affect almost every sector.

“The last couple of years, we’ve focused our energy trying to help folks come out of the pandemic better than they went in. And even though we did it better than almost anyone else, there’s still more to be done. So much of it comes back to workforce,” Jinkins said.

Whether it is teachers, nurses, child care workers or high-tech workers, the state is facing worker shortages that create struggles for businesses and impact the delivery of critical services to the population.

Recent policies and budget victories championed by legislative Democrats include The Washington Recovery Budget, passed in 2021 (and the supplemental budget passed in 2022), which included over a billion dollars slated for rent assistance, mortgage assistance and utility assistance to help those hit hardest by the pandemic stay housed and warm. The Fair Start for Kids Act aims to make child care more affordable and accessible for working families. And the Working Families Tax Credit made more than 400,000 taxpayers in the state eligible for a sales tax rebate of between $300 and $1200.

But Jinkins acknowledged there is more to be done to fully deliver on the successes of the past biennium, including addressing major housing needs across the state.

“We have a big need for more housing of all kinds, in every corner of our state… there are many different ways to get there, and it will take creative, innovative and bipartisan approaches to address the complexity of the problem,” Jinkins said.

With more women serving in the Legislature than ever before, and the most members of color in legislative history, Jinkins stressed that the historic diversity strengthens the ability to serve all Washingtonians and called on lawmakers to focus on common ground.

The regular session is scheduled to run 105 days and conclude on April 23, 2023.