House proposed budgets addressing homelessness, health disparities, and maritime education, and tax filing help in Pierce County

Dear friends and neighbors,

We are in the final month of the 2023 Legislative Session. Both the House and the Senate proposed their budgets, and we are now in the process of passing our versions and negotiating the final details. We must complete our work by April 23 to adjourn on time.

I listened to communities in our district to offer several important funding requests for programs and services in our area. Many of those made it into the House budgets and I will be advocating for their inclusion in the final versions we send to the governor for his approval. Read more below on some of those provisos and requests that will bring funding and services to our district.

Capital Budget Committee Investments

Since joining the Legislature in 2019, with a brief hiatus in 2021-2022, I have been privileged to serve on the House Capital Budget Committee, which writes the state Capital Budget, sometime called the construction budget. This budget provides funding for the construction and repair of public buildings and other long-term investments, as well as funds land acquisitions and transfers. Grants and loans to local governments and nonprofit organizations for infrastructure, broadband, housing, and cultural heritage facilities are also allocated funding in the Capital Budget. These governments and organizations reach out to lawmakers to help them advocate for these funds and be their voice in the negotiations.

I am proud to have acquired funds for important projects such as the Parkland homeless shelter that supports pregnant women, single mothers, and their children who are experiencing homelessness in Pierce County. This project will make a positive difference of people in our community.

I am also pleased to report that this year, the House Capital Budget has prioritized funding for affordable housing and home upgrades, behavioral health facilities, climate-oriented investments, and local and community projects. These are all critical areas where we need to invest in supporting the well-being of our state and its residents.

Helping our Communities

During the 2019 session, our office began researching the healthcare and outcomes for historically marginalized communities. What we found was deeply troubling, but not unexpected. Social, economic, and environmental (acronym “SEE”) conditions such as education, employment status, income level, and ethnicity can obstruct access to equitable healthcare. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Health Equity Map shows that the people most likely to be impacted by adverse health effects due to SEE conditions are those from historically marginalized communities.

Disparities in healthcare can be caused by neighborhoods with too much pollution, limited park/green space access, a lack of healthy food options, and a lack of social connection. To best confront institutional racism and improve SEE conditions in Pierce County, it is important to diversify the healthcare workforce and advance cultural competence. Personalized healthcare that is cognizant of cultural differences can have a major impact on communication between patients and healthcare workers.

These disparities motivated me to request $500,000 from our Operating Budget to work with a health care provider to develop a pilot program that addresses the specific needs of these communities. I am proud to say that this funding was included in the House Operating Budget and will help to ensure that members of historically marginalized communities in Pierce County have access to the healthcare they need and deserve.

I will continue to work to ensure our community is served in an equitable way.

A Maritime Academy for Our Area

As a former school board member, I know that supporting multiple pathways for our students to succeed is crucial. That is why I am pleased to inform you about my recent efforts to support the creation of a Maritime Academy on the Olympic Peninsula.

Our maritime industry is struggling with staffing, like most industries. In order to meet demand for these good-paying jobs, we have to provide students with accessible education options that let them enter their chosen fields. The proposed Maritime Academy would offer accredited career and technical education for maritime vessel operations and maritime courses to students who wish to pursue a post-secondary degree or certification.

To make this vision a reality, I requested $150,000 in this year’s operating budget to conduct a feasibility study. This study will help us identify the location, design, planning, and budget for the construction of the school. It will also address systems, policies, and practices that cause disparities of historically marginalized communities in the maritime industry.

If approved in the budget, the preliminary study is set to be completed by December 1, 2023, with the final report due by June 3, 2024, and presented to the fiscal committees in the House and Senate. I am committed to keeping you informed of our progress as we move forward with this important initiative.

ship, ocean, navy, maritime academy

Free Tax Season Resources

Tax filing day is right around the corner and it’s important you file on time, even if you don’t owe any taxes this year. The Parkland/Spanaway Library hosts the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to provide free tax preparation services for moderate and low-income Pierce County residents.

You’ll need an appointment, which you can schedule by calling 2-1-1 and the appointment availability are on Thursdays from 12:30 to 5:30 pm and Saturdays from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. Learn more at

You can also get assistance from the local IRS office in Tacoma. Call 844-545-5640 to make an appointment Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

As always, I am committed to working hard on your behalf and will continue to advocate for the needs of our community. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office.