2023 Legislative Victories: K-12 Education and Early Learning, plus Legislative Internship Application Open

JinkinsCommunityConvo_9.12.23Dear friends and neighbors,

Last week was the first week of school for Tacoma Public Schools, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share what we did last session for K-12 education and early learning.

I also want to thank the many of you who have joined us at community conversations over the last few months. It’s been fun to meet with people across the district and celebrate the many places we can gather in our community. Special thanks to the Tacoma Public Library, Franklin Park, Heritage Coffee and Plant House, and the Center at Norpoint for hosting us.

While we don’t have any more community conversations planned right now, you can always get ahold of my office via phone (360-786-7930) or email to share your perspective.



This year we focused on getting students the tools and support they need to thrive, making the largest new investment in K-12 education since 2017. That includes increases for more nurses, counselors, and social workers in our schools. We also increased funding for special education by $417 million to better support students with special needs and their educators, and expanded our dual language investments with $13 million in new funding. Our educators also deserve a living wage, and this year we invested $521 million to salary adjustments and healthcare costs for K-12 educators. Overall, our operating and capital budgets invest billions of new dollars in public education.

Last year we passed legislation expanding access to free school meals for 350,000 students; this year we expanded that program to serve another 90,000 students across Washington state.

We know that students learn in many different ways, so this year we expanded our graduation pathway options to include performance based learning of real world skills and school credit for paid work experience.

K-12 education is one of our biggest priorities, but we need to invest in early learning and post-secondary education to ensure that we’re setting our students up for success. I talked more about post-secondary education in a newsletter earlier this summer, you can check that out here.


If we want our investments in K-12 and post-secondary education to be successful, we need to invest in our youngest learners, too. Over the last few years, we’ve funded landmark expansions for our child care and early learning programs. Thanks to the Fair Start for Kids Act and our investments this year, we’re on our way to providing access to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) for all qualifying families. In this year’s budget we added $82 million for additional ECEAP slots. We know that in addition to making child care more affordable, we need to make it more accessible. That’s why this year we also allocated $256 million to increase salaries for family child care providers and invested $5 million to help facilities offer more non-standard hours.

We know that finding affordable childcare can also prevent people from accessing opportunities. That’s why we passed HB 1525, which expands the Working Connections Child Care program to first-year apprentices. The bill also changes the requirement for apprentices to be full-time, giving families more flexibility as they learn skills that will help them find good, family-wage work.

Investing in early learning is one of the best things we can do for the future of our state. I’m proud of what we’ve done over the last few years, and I know there’s more to come.


Applications are open now for the Washington State Legislative Intern Program! This program is an incredible opportunity for higher education students – you’re matched with legislators in the House or Senate based on your interest areas and political ideology, and you spend a session working in Olympia and learning about the legislative process. The priority deadline for applications is October 22nd, and you receive academic credit for the program as well as a monthly stipend of $2,400.