29th District Legislative Review: Funding, Resources, & Staying in Touch

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I’d like to thank each of you who attended our telephone town hall on May 2nd. It was a pleasure to hear about your priorities directly, answer your questions, and share an update about the 2024 legislative session. For those who couldn’t attend or who’d like more information, I hope you find this newsletter useful!

Throughout the 2024 legislative session, we addressed critical issues like housing supply, childcare, climate change, and behavioral health through the passage of 373 bills, 297 of which garnered bipartisan support, and all without raising or creating new taxes. I remained steadfast in my commitment to empower the communities in our district by utilizing tools such as the Climate Commitment Act and Capital Gains Excise Tax to fund environmental equity projects, increase stability in public school funding, and expand access to early learning. Although challenges persist, the 2024 session was undeniably impactful.

Investments Coming to the 29th District

Capital2024The smallest of our three state budgets, but perhaps the most meaningful, the biennial $9 billion and supplemental $1.3 billion Capital Budget for Washington is all about building a brighter future, focusing on critical community needs such as affordable housing, behavioral health facilities, school construction, and healthcare.

In our district, several projects are receiving funding, including $129k for the Pierce Center for Arts & Technology, $2.8 million to modernize transmission and distribution of TPU’s grid, $38 million to expand fire service training at Bates Technical College, $103k for a BIPOC Farm Fresh Hub & Technical Assistance Program at Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank, and $3.9 million for an affordable housing and clean-up grant program at the 35th St. landfill. These investments aim to enhance the quality of life for Washingtonians and address pressing community needs.

Operat2024The largest of our three state budgets, the “Resilient Washington Budget” for 2023-25 places a strong emphasis on critical services like education, healthcare, housing, and climate response. Key allocations include $2.2 billion for K-12 education, $1.8 billion for long-term care, $1.1 billion for behavioral health, $1 billion for public health, $684 million for natural resource preservation, $590 million for children and families, $519 million for housing and homelessness, $397 million for human services, $382 million for college and workforce development, and $253 million for public safety and legal aid. These investments directly target the challenges faced by marginalized populations, bolstering the resilience of our state. Additionally, the supplemental budget underscores our commitment to tackling substance use disorder, furthering our efforts to support those in need.

Transpo2024The third state budget, the 2023-25 transportation budget, is about more than just crunching numbers to build roads and bridges. It’s a $14.6 billion commitment to shape the future of Washington through sustainable development. Thanks to the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), the single largest effort to hold our state’s biggest polluters accountable and turn the tide on climate change, communities are not being left to suffer with the harmful impacts of environmental degradation. The CCA is funding:

  • Clean energy development and energy efficiency projects.
  • Natural resource conservation and carbon sequestration.
  • Decarbonization efforts at public colleges and universities.
  • Clean air projects at K-12 schools.
  • Rebates for electric heat pumps that go directly to Washington families.
  • Electric school buses safeguarding children’s health from diesel engine pollution.
  • Enhancing public transit and providing free transit for kids.
  • Expanding bike and pedestrian infrastructure to provide safe routes for multi-modal transit.
  • Rebates for weatherization of homes.
  • Transitioning the nation’s largest ferry to sustainable hybrid electric ferries.
  • Providing funds to private landowners for conservation efforts.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions originating from building, promoting healthier indoor spaces, and creating living wage jobs in the building industry.
  • Saving salmon habitat.
  • Electrification of rail and ports creating quieter and cleaner coastal areas and communities.
  • Geothermal and offshore energy generation research.
  • Food waste reduction grants.
  • Forest protection and fire prevention efforts.

But it’s not just about big projects; it’s about putting people first. That’s why we’ve ensured youth can get around easily with free public transit. It’s why we’re prioritizing worker safety by installing the latest technology to keep construction zones safer.

If you want more details on any of the budgets, including project maps and lists, please visit our state’s fiscal information website:

fiscal wa gov gif

Resources For Individuals, Students, & Families

As we enter the summer, many individuals, students, and families continue to experience hardship. Below are some resources, that in addition to contacting my office, may be useful:

  • Health & Safety: resources for caregivers, foster parents, seniors, long-term care providers; healthcare resources like links to obtain health insurance coverage and the WA Recovery Line; plus emergency preparedness resources. https://wa.gov/health-and-safety/
  • Education: information for educators, K-12 students, and their families: https://wa.gov/education.
  • Work: information about workers’ rights, benefits, apprenticeship programs, professional licenses, and more. https://wa.gov/work/
  • Your Government: information on courts and appeals, city and county codes, tribal government, habitat conservation plans, assistance for insurance problems, reporting robocalls and telemarketing scams to the Attorney General, and information to safeguard consumers from fraud. https://wa.gov/your-government/
  • Financial Aid: tools for students heading to college, an apprenticeship, or seeking career or technical training. https://wa.gov/how-to-guides/financial-aid/
  • Washington Information Network: dial “211” (9am-5pm Mon-Fri) or visit https://wa211.org for the assistance you’re seeking. I’m glad we were able to secure $4 million this biennium to fund this critical resource.
  • Crisis Support: If you or a loved one is in crisis, dial “988” to be connected to free, confidential support with trained crisis counselors. You can also text “988” or visit https://988lifeline.org to chat with someone online. All 988 resources are available 24/7.
  • Social and Human Services (DSHS) has subdivisions to meet the needs of our communities. https://www.dshs.wa.gov
  • Medicaid (aka Apple Health) is low cost, or often free, health insurance for those who qualify. https://www.hca.wa.gov/free-or-low-cost-health-care
  • Children, Youth & Familieshttps://www.dcyf.wa.gov for childcare and early learning services, information on adoption, report child abuse, youth suicide prevention, juvenile rehabilitation, and more.
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave: https://paidleave.wa.gov for what to do before you apply, how to apply, and more.
  • Employment Securityhttps://esd.wa.gov/unemployment for unemployment benefits, eligibility criteria, and how to apply.
  • WorkSource: https://seeker.worksourcewa.com provides employment and training to job seekers.
  • Office of Civil Legal Aid: https://ocla.wa.gov/ provides civil (not criminal) legal services to low-income people.
  • Washington Student Achievement Council: https://wsac.wa.gov/financial-aid has financial aid information including details on need-based programs like the Washington College Grant, merit-based programs and more.
  • Weatherization Programs for qualified low-income households: https://tinyurl.com/366j36zt
  • Small Business Resiliency Network: https://tinyurl.com/kfh4h7ph
  • Manufactured/Mobile Home Relocation Assistance and Coordination Programs: https://tinyurl.com/bdzmnz6z

Civic Engagement in the 29th District

Following the adjournment of the 2024 legislative session, I remain dedicated to keeping our conversation going and making our community better by addressing the priorities that matter most to you. Below are some visits with you that exemplify the spirit of community engagement:

Harvard Elementary nestled in the Franklin Pierce School District, was abuzz with enthusiasm as I received a collection of vibrant brochures crafted by the talented 3rd-grade dual-language class of Mr. Ruiz. These bilingual pamphlets, brimming with tips on park cleanliness, tree health, and water conservation, reflect the proactive approach of our youngest residents towards environmental stewardship. Some students even showcased inventive solutions for water filtration and waste management, showcasing their creativity and concern for our planet’s well-being.

I also had the honor of joining South Sound Military Families to deliberate on legislative pathways to address the pressing challenges confronting military families, including access to essential childcare services. Our dialogue was insightful and productive, reaffirming our commitment to supporting those who serve our nation.

On the academic front, a visit to Pacific Lutheran University was especially meaningful, as future leaders in local and state government class eagerly discussed and learned about the legislature with me.

Having the opportunity to meet with you serves as a heartwarming reminder of the importance of nurturing civic engagement and fostering an understanding of state policies among our youth and community. I look forward to continuing to meet with you this interim!

Staying In Touch During Legislative Interim

As we journey through the 2024 legislative interim, I wanted to give you a heads-up about some changes regarding how I’ll be staying in touch. From May 6th until the certification of the 2024 election results, there will be a little pause on most of my official communication channels like my legislative website and Facebook page. That means I won’t be rolling out any new content using state resources, including email updates. One important thing won’t change though: I’m still all in when it comes to serving you and our community.

My legislative assistant, Kaitlin, and I are still up and running preparing for the 2025 legislative session. Please continue to reach out with any legislative questions or to set up a meeting with me. Kaitlin can also connect you with state agencies and services. If you want to know more about the restrictions during an election year, just click here or check out the video below.

Stay in touch,

Rep. Mena e signature

Sharlett Mena

State Representative

29th District