Friends and Neighbors,

Deadlines have a way of focusing the mind. Whether it’s high school graduation, the proposal that will launch your business, or a furlough notice to your mother working at the adult family home – meeting the deadline matters a lot.

The Budget Deadline Looms

The House Democratic negotiating team negotiated with itself for the first special session, which ended  May 21st. The Senate GOP budget leader essentially stood still, waiting….waiting…waiting. He wanted the Democrats to sign the Senate budget and go home. No negotiating. No new revenue. No social safety net. Just raiding our property tax payers’ pocketbooks in King and Snohomish Counties – and cutting funding to our urban schools in the Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond corridor – to pay for schools in other parts of the state.

That’s not a negotiation. It’s an ultimatum.

The legislature went into a second special session. Same old story, different 30 days.

Finally, as the third special session began, things took a serious turn – for the worse. The Governor’s office began to prepare for a state government

 shutdown. June 30th is the end of the state’s fiscal year. If the legislature has not passed a budget by June 30th, there will be serious consequences. Such as: 33,000 public employees being furloughed, losing a paycheck and putting their housing, healthcare, and families at risk. If lawmakers don’t pass a budget, all those local towns and neighborhoods depending on tourists vacationing in state parks? Well, the parks will be closed and there goes the economic bump that so many small, rural towns count on to make it through the lean months.

The June 30th deadline is next Friday. Solving the K-12 school funding crisis and meeting our constitutional duty to our kids, teachers, schools, and state will come down to this: seven days in June.

Making Up For Lost Time

As much as we hope for a miracle, where suddenly people will change their minds about long-held beliefs, this doesn’t happen in real life. Senate GOP leaders have never supported progressive revenue strategies to fund our 7.1 million people and the communities where they live. They don’t support raising taxes to pay  for critical infrastructure.

They just want the critical infrastructure.

Our state, just as is the case with the nation, has punted for several decades on funding infrastructure. We fight and fight and then a bridge collapses, a landslide happens, schools literally crumble, roads become danger zones, power lines fail – and then we scramble in the equivalent of the final minutes of a 6-month legislative session to make up for lost time. This is what happened with the 2015 transportation revenue package.

This also has happened with every biennium budget since I began serving in the state legislature in 2013. It is unnerving and endlessly frustrating. What’s the common denominator? A divided legislature. The Senate GOP and the House Democrats see governing through a very different lens. And there is no meeting of the minds about how to fund the needs of our state.

Lawmakers now head into the final seven days. We have not tackled serious tax reform. We have not bridged the very real divide between those who generate property tax revenues for the state and those who won’t generate property tax revenues for their own schools and communities. We cannot make up for years of lost time and lost investment in the critical needs of our state with a Hail Mary pass.

The Way Forward

Deadlines have a way of focusing the mind. Another way of putting it? It takes a crisis for the big ship of state to move forward, away from the rocks. Washington is a bigger state than it was six years ago. We have more people, more jobs, more risks to our environment, more public safety and public health challenges. Yes, we pay more taxes because more people create more demand for services. Our schools are straining at the seams. Our working families struggle to pay the rent. Our students are drowning in college tuition debt.

To move forward, we must understand where we are today. We are at a crossroads. Our children and grandchildren in our public K-12 schools cannot help our state move forward if we do not give each and every child a learning environment where they can grow and thrive. 

Every choice has a trade-off. The Senate GOP decision to not negotiate until the end of the second special session has consequences for all of us. All of us suffer because of the choice they made. We cannot make up for so much lost time.

There is no magic solution to funding schools. We need new sources of revenue

The Senate’s proposed property tax hike will hit the tax bills of millions of homeowners. Seniors, fixed-income households, new parents struggling with college debt and a mortgage – all of them will be punished by the Senate GOP plan. Punished for having the audacity to buy a home, raise a family, start a business, and support their schools.

With 7 days left, what’s the better deal? Go bold: Create New Revenue

Do the right thing for our state. And give the property tax payers a much-deserved nod to say “thank you for all your decades of paying your property taxes to help our communities and state build a better future.”

The next week will be a roller coaster. I am so grateful to all of you for your patience. We will get the job done.

Please keep in touch with me by email, phone, or when you visit Olympia. Your ideas and perspectives are always welcome as we navigate important budget debates in the coming week.

Your voice in Olympia,

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Update on capital budget, clean energy, and car tabs


This was a whirlwind first week in Olympia, and while we did not accomplish everything we would have liked to in the first day, I am excited about our early progress and hopeful that we will see more progressive victories in the coming weeks. 

First and foremost, that means passing a capital budget. It is essential that we pass one immediately so that we can break ground on crucial, shovel-ready projects like schools, hospitals and other community facilities. We need to pass one soon to meet deadlines for federal matching funds and other grants.

We in the House Democratic Caucus had planned to vote on the $4.3 billion capital budget on Tuesday, the second day of the 60-day legislative session. As a show of good faith to our Republican colleagues we have agreed to a slight delay. But we won’t postpone long because our state cannot wait for these investments.

Additionally, we must come up with a solution for car tabs that have proved prohibitively expensive for so many Seattle drivers. I have heard from many of my transit-conscious constituents this week and let me be clear: I understand the importance of light rail to our economy, our environment and our region. I voted for ST3, as did 36th district voters. I do not want to undercut Sound Transit’s funding and have no intention of supporting a bill that would prevent ST3 from moving forward.

But we must also be sensitive to the fact that many people already struggling with burdens like student loan debt and the rising cost of living in Seattle had trouble with the skyrocketing car tab fees caused by using the vehicle valuation system. We are working hard to find a solution.

There are other exciting things happening here at the capitol. I am sponsoring the Energy Independence Act so that this state can be a leader creating jobs in the clean energy sector while maintaining affordable rates for Washington. I’m hopeful that we will finally pass the Voting Rights Act and Equal Pay Act, and am encouraged by the prospects of passing meaningful legislation to improve our mental health care system and provide care and treatment for those struggling with opioid drug addiction.

We have some long days ahead of us and no doubt some big tests. But I know that my colleagues and I are up to the challenge.

Thank you for your support, and thank you so much for your energy toward creating a better, more progressive Washington.

Your voice in Olympia,







By the way, I will be posting on this blog throughout session. Please feel free to send me suggestions of topics for future posts. Send ideas to me by email at Gael.Tarleton@Leg.Wa.Gov.


Gael began her career as a senior defense intelligence analyst for the Pentagon, working on security issues affecting ports across the country and other critical facilities. In 1989, she was the youngest person ever to receive in public the Director of Central Intelligence’s “National Intelligence Medal of Achievement” for recognition of her exceptional contributions to protecting vital national interests.

After a decade working at the Pentagon, Gael ran two international subsidiaries of a Fortune 500 company in Russia. She was responsible for creating disaster preparedness and emergency response plans for ports nationwide. Her work helped rebuild the country after the Cold War collapse, employing new technologies in an effort to clean up nuclear waste and prevent environmental disasters.

Gael most recently worked as a strategic advisor for the Institute for National Security Education and Research at the University of Washington.

First elected to serve the people of King County as a Port of Seattle Commissioner in 2007, Gael was re-elected in 2011 and served as Commission President in 2012. During her five years at the Port, Gael has worked to increase transparency, protect the environment, and bring an end to human trafficking. During this time, she also served as a technical advisor for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Seattle.

Gael was first elected to represent the 36th legislative district in 2012. She will focus on creating jobs, safeguarding our environment, ensuring government accountability, adequately funding higher education, and funding health care.

Gael was recently appointed to serve on several boards and work groups such as the Women Legislators Lobby (WiLL), Pacific NorthWest Economic Region, and Legislators’ Energy Horizons Institute. She also co-chairs the Washington State Aviation Caucus with Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside.

She holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. The Northwest Asian Weekly honored her with the “Women Leaders 2012” award, and she also received the “Maritime Industry Official of the Year 2012” award.

Gael and her husband, Bob, have lived in the 36th District’s Ballard neighborhood for nearly two decades. The Olympic Peninsula has been their favorite spot to fish for salmon and steelhead and go hiking for 25 years.

Seattle’s Working Waterfront

The city of Seattle cherishes its connections to the water – it’s all around us. The state legislature created a taskforce on maritime and manufacturing industries, which I co-chair.

This bipartisan, bicameral group is exploring what we need to do to hold onto the jobs and industrial lands for our maritime and fishing companies. Protecting our waterfront will provide our communities with sustainable fisheries, a healthy environment and future economic opportunities we can depend on.

This is why I love our working waterfront:

This segment shows the working waterfront and what it means for the future of our children and the many jobs that are part of maritime and manufacturing sectors:

Economic Resilience of Maritime and Manufacturing Taskforce covers several core sectors including fishing and seafood processing, ship and boat building, maritime logistics, military security and federal operations support, passenger water transportation and tourism.

This link includes information on the Taskforce, upcoming public meetings and work sessions and the Final Work Plan, which maps out the work of the Taskforce.

Below is also a list of Economic Impact Studies for an in-depth look at varying sectors in the Maritime Industry and their tremendous contributions to our state’s economy:
Port of Seattle
Port of Tacoma
WA State Maritime Cluster Impact Study
City of Seattle Maritime Cluster
Commercial Fishing Industry

Additional Resources on the Working Waterfront and Maritime & Manufacturing Industries:
National Working Waterfront Network
Sea Grant Washington
Department of Commerce Maritime Industry

News Releases

  • Update on capital budget, clean energy, and car tabs | E-newsletters - January 13, 2018
    Friends, This was a whirlwind first week in Olympia, and while we did not accomplish everything we would have liked to in the first day, I am excited about our early progress and hopeful that we will see more progressive... READ MORE
  • Embracing innovation in the maritime industry | News - December 15, 2017
    On Tuesday I joined with Governor Inslee to launch “Maritime Blue,” a new initiative to transform our maritime economy for a clean-energy future. I will co-chair the Maritime Innovation Council with Frank Foti, CEO of Seattle-based shipbuilding company Vigor, and Dennis... READ MORE
  • Exciting opportunity for students: Washington World Fellows Program | News - December 8, 2017
    Thanks to the great work of our Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib, college students have a new and exciting study abroad opportunity. Up to 20 students will spend six weeks in Léon, Spain next summer earning college credit and being fully immersed... READ MORE
  • Update on capital budget, education funding, and more! | E-newsletters - November 21, 2017
    Dear Friends and Neighbors – The 2018 Legislative Session is just around the corner. I want to give you a brief update on some key issues from the 2017 session and a preview of what’s to come. Also, keep an... READ MORE
  • Rep. Gael Tarleton recognized for career and technical education advocacy | E-newsletters - August 14, 2017
    From MyBallard.com –  Our State Representative Gael Tarleton (D-Ballard) has been recognized for her work to raise funds for career and technical education (CTE) in middle and high schools and skill centers. Tarleton won the Washington Business Alliance’s 2017 Career and Technical... READ MORE
  • Videos

    Legislator Profiles with State Representative Gael Tarleton, 36th District.

    Strengthen the middle class through investments in higher education

    Building an economy that works for everyone means making college affordable and accessible. In a state known for its high-tech and engineering industries, Washington House Democrats are committed to removing barriers to college. Here’s Rep. Gael Tarleton sharing ideas on how to strengthen the middle class through investments in higher education. #waleg

    Posted by Washington House Democrats on Friday, February 26, 2016


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