Dear friends and neighbors,
We wanted to reach out with an update on our work as we approach the end of session. The House and Senate have both proposed their budgets (more details about the House proposals below!) and we’ve moved into negotiations on a final plan. We also just crossed one of the last major cutoffs for this session, where bills had to pass out of the opposite chamber. For the next week we’ll be focused on wrapping up bills that were changed in the Senate and passing our budget proposals.
|Note from Emily
Washington needs to build over a million homes in the next 20 years to keep up with demand—and 500,000 of those need to be affordable for our low-income family members, friends and neighbors. Not only do we need to make it easier to build modest housing options of all shapes and sizes to boost our supply of homes, we need to take purposeful action to ensure these options are actually affordable to the families that need them.
I’ve spent my career focused on providing affordable housing to some of our state’s most vulnerable, and I’m proud to continue that work here in the Legislature. I recently had the opportunity to talk about the work we’re doing to solve Washington’s housing crisis on both KUOW and the Capitol Ideas podcast. Give them a listen!
I’m also pleased to report that several of my sponsored bills have passed both chambers, including HB 1200 to improve union representation for workers; HB 1260 to end the practice of requiring seniors and those with work-limiting disabilities to repay state benefits when they transition to federal disability benefits; HB 1694 to strengthen our home care workforce; and HB 1695 to use surplus property for permanently affordable homeownership.
But that’s not all we’re doing to support Washington’s seniors, working people and families. The House-passed operating budget includes over $9.4 million for childcare providers who operate during non-standard hours to provide better childcare access for parents who work outside of the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. And we prioritized investments in early learning, behavioral health, and K-12 public education. I’m hopeful that these investments will remain in the final version of the budget we expect to pass this week!
|Note from Joe
As I mentioned in our first newsletter this session, my new role as Majority Leader has changed my approach to this job in a couple ways.
As a part of our caucus’s leadership team I help shepherd all the bills we pass in the House through the Senate. I also help negotiate our operating budget, working with other members in the caucus to come up with a proposal (more on that below!) and then working with the Senate to come up with a final package.
The trade-off for being involved in this work is that I have less time to focus on running bills of my own. This year I only sponsored one bill, HB 1216, to help ensure that we’re able to build the clean energy facilities we need to power our clean energy transition. I’m happy to say it’s passed out of the Senate and I’m looking forward to wrapping up work on it in the House before sending it to the Governor to sign.
This year, our proposed operating budget makes significant investments to support equity, improve access to vital services, protect the environment, reduce poverty and homelessness, promote public safety, and ensure that individuals and families have the support they need to thrive.
$1.3 billion investment for behavioral health: we’re supporting access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and recovery services, including increased rates for providers and investments in behavioral health beds. This investment also prioritizes care for vulnerable populations, such as children with complex needs, and supports the workers who provide these critical services.
The House construction budget also supports families in here in the 34th, including funding for the Evergreen Treatment Services substance use treatment center, SeaMar Community Health Centers, and Seattle Indian Health Board’s Thunderbird Treatment Center on Vashon.
$1.9 billion for k-12 education: we’re providing fair and equal opportunities for all students, by ensuring educators are compensated and supported, supporting students with disabilities through special education funding, and providing free meals to help students focus and succeed.
$991 million for public health and healthcare: we are committed to equity, access to healthcare services, and the protection of public health during emergencies. By providing affordable healthcare options for low-income families and adequate compensation for healthcare providers, the state is working to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need.
$608 million for childcare and early learning: we’re promoting equity and access to quality care for children, particularly those from low-income families and in kinship care. This investment supports ECEAP rates and slots, family care provider collective bargaining, and kinship caregivers, which can improve the availability and affordability of childcare, and help children develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills, which are crucial for their future success.
$528 million for housing and homelessness: everyone needs a home. We’re providing comprehensive support to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or financial hardship through increased funding for homeless and housing service contracts, providing housing and essential needs, expanding encampment response, and supporting local government planning for housing, children, and youth homelessness.
$491 million for poverty reduction: we’re prioritizing the values of economic justice and equity by providing support for low-income working families through the Working Families Tax Credit, access to nutritious food through food assistance, financial assistance for families facing hardship, and comprehensive support through changes to TANF.
$1.9 billion for long-term care and developmental disabilities: we’re increasing rates for nursing home and home care workers, supporting adult family homes, and facilitating transitions out of acute care hospitals can help to ensure that individuals with disabilities and those in need of long-term care receive high-quality, compassionate care and support.
The House construction budget also included funding for a couple arts programs in the 34th district, including the Vashon Center for the Arts, Highland Park Improvement Club, and the Creative Youth Empowerment Hub in downtown Seattle, which is a BIPOC and Native-led youth arts space.
Thanks for reading!