Legislative Update from Eileen and Joe

House Budget fully funds education and social services

This week, the House Democrats released our budget for the 2017-2019 biennium, putting Washington families first. People across the state have asked us how we can improve education, make college affordable, create thriving communities, and increase access to quality health care. We meet all of those needs in the House Democratic budget.

The House Democratic budget fully funds education by investing in our classrooms, in our teachers, and in our kids. Our budget invests $7.1 billion in additional dollars for our K-12 schools. We put that money toward high-quality teachers in every classroom, giving students the education they deserve, and keeping our promise to fully fund education. We do this while also ending the local school district reliance on levies to make up for funding shortfalls.

Education is our primary focus, but it’s certainly not our only focus. Our Families First budget makes key investments in early learning, higher education, mental health services, housing, civil legal aid, and quality care for our aging population and people with developmental disabilities population. Our budget is a strong investment in the health and prosperity of our communities.

You can read more about our budget proposal here.

So how are we going to pay for this?

We have known all along that there was not enough revenue to create an exceptional education system without cutting some or all of the critical state services mentioned above – we’ve heard this again and again from our constituents. In fact, even our Republican colleagues agree that more money is needed.

Our budget recognizes that our tax structure is the most upside-down in the country. People who earn less pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than those at the very top. To help address this issue and fully fund education, our revenue plan:

  • proposes a capital gains tax that exempts retirement accounts and sales of single-family homes;
  • collects sales tax from out-of-state online retailers who compete against Washington businesses;
  • provides tax relief to small businesses by asking our highest grossing businesses to chip in a fairer share; and
  • closes costly and out-of-date tax breaks.

In their budget, in addition to deep cuts to state services that address youth homelessness and helping needy families, Senate Republicans proposed a $5.5 billion property tax to fund their budget. Under the Republican plan, folks in our district would pay more for less school funding. That is simply unacceptable.

We oppose the Senate Republican budget, which:

  • Slashes housing services for homeless youth & families.
  • Rolls back progress to improve quality of childcare.
  • Raises college tuition and ignores the growing State Need Grant backlog.
  • Rejects the $1 billion in federal funds given to the state to help transform our health care delivery system.

So what’s next? Now that both chambers have introduced budget and revenue plans, both sides will start negotiating a compromise solution to send to the Governor. We remain committed to supporting your values and the values of Washington throughout the negotiation process.

Pushing for investments in environmental sustainability

On the national level, yesterday Trump signed an executive order moving our country backwards on climate and nullifying our commitment to the Paris Accord. This move by the new administration increases the urgency of Washington State taking action to curb emissions and forge a path for other states to follow.

Joe sat down to discuss his proposal to curb emissions and invest in environmental sustainability –  HB 1646 on TVW last week. Despite entrenched opposition in the legislature, we are starting to make headway with some of our Republican colleagues, and our hope is that the positive impacts of a carbon tax – both for our energy economy and our cherished outdoors – will ultimately result in a step forward for Washington State’s climate policy.

Thanks for reading!