Dear Friends and Neighbors,
When we opened the session in January, the Washington economy was reeling. Today, thanks to Washington’s strong business climate, the resiliency of its people, and an infusion of funding from the new federal administration, the outlook is far brighter than any of us could have predicted just a few months ago.
We’re not out of the woods yet, of course. We’ve lost thousands of our fellow Washingtonians to COVID-19. Though the economy is bouncing back, many small businesses so vital to that economy have suffered or closed their doors forever, and countless Washington workers have borne the brunt of this slowdown. We’ve all grown more aware of fresh racial wounds and longstanding systemic inequities that tear at the fabric of our society. And climate change persists as the greatest existential threat that we have ever faced.
This year, your Legislature has addressed all of these issues and more. Today, as we are entering the final stretch of the 2021 legislative session, we want to focus this special joint message on one of our most important duties as legislators: writing and passing budgets that put people first. That mission carries extra weight this year as we seek to ensure an equitable recovery from the economic devastation brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The initial budget proposals for Capital, Transportation and Operating budgets have passed their respective chambers, now it’s time to iron out differences and dive into budget negotiations. We are confident that we will finish this important work without going into a special session after the legislature adjourns on April 25.
Thanks for taking the time to read this report,
Before we get into the budgets…
We want to share something that happened on Sunday evening, as we were debating Senate Bill 5044, concerning professional learning, equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in our public school system. The measure will ensure our educators and administrative staff receive diversity and inclusion training so they can better serve all Washington students. This is something faculty, staff and parents have been requesting.
We were proud to stand on the virtual House Floor with many of our Caucus colleagues to speak in opposition to an amendment that would have essentially gutted the intent of the bill and thus undercut the importance of training to create an inclusive environment in our schools. All House Democrats voted against the amendment and in favor of the bill to support our students and teachers. It was an emotional and powerful display of solidarity.
We are honored to share our floor remarks in the videos below (click on the images to play) and encourage you to also watch the speeches by our colleagues at this TVW link.
Washington Recovery Budget
Our “Washington Recovery Budget” is the third step in our Community and Economic Recovery Plan, using state and federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to support people hit hardest during the pandemic, prioritizing the needs of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities that have suffered the most and face the most barriers to recovery.
By utilizing state revenue and federal funds provided in the American Rescue Plan Act, the Washington Recovery Budget serves Washington residents through:
- $1.185 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, contact tracing, and testing.
- $1.07 billion to pay the back rent accrued during the governor’s eviction moratorium, direct payments to landlords to keep people from being evicted for lack of rent payments when the moratorium ends.
- $600 million to cut the unemployment insurance rates for small businesses.
- $250 million in small business grants.
- $140 million for food assistance programs.
- $63 million to increase and extend TANF benefits.
- $400 million for childcare grants.
- $53 million for additional special education funding.
- $52.5 million for additional counselors in high-poverty schools.
- And SO MUCH MORE…
Watch this short video on why we need this budget now:
The 2021-23 capital budget—sometimes called the construction budget—will make historic investments in communities across our state and put tens of thousands of people to work rebuilding the economy. Our proposal includes investments in our future by building broadband internet infrastructure in rural and underserved communities, constructing a behavioral health teaching facility, and building desperately needed affordable housing.
Some of the highlights in our district include:
$258,000: Mika’s Playground
Many people in our community are familiar with Mika Zimbalist and his family’s advocacy to make sure kids with disabilities have the same opportunities as every other child. When Mika passed away suddenly in 2019, his family turned their grief into action and now our budget is helping fund a playground in Mika’s memory. Learn more about Mika’s Playground here.
$258,000: Edmonds Marsh Restoration
Years of environmental degradation have harmed the ecosystem of the Edmonds Marsh—a rare saltwater marsh. The marsh plays a critical role in Chinook salmon migration and growth, and is sacred to the Coast Salish Native Peoples as a fishing, harvesting and gathering place.
$250,000: Edmonds Waterfront Center
The Edmonds Waterfront Center is such an important resource for our community. As you may know, it houses the Edmonds Senior Center which helps fight food insecurity for seniors in our community, along with a thrift store, bistro, coffee shop and private events. The Center even played an important role in the initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout, hosting a vaccine clinic in January for vulnerable seniors and essential workers.
$206,000: Japanese Gulch Daylighting
The Japanese Gulch in Mukilteo is an important archaeological and ecological site where Japanese lumber mill workers and their families lived in the early 1900s. The recent rise in anti-Asian hate is reminiscent of the racism Japanese Gulch residents experienced. Learn more about the archeological history of the Gulch from the Burke Museum here. Then, for more than 60 years, the Department of Defense (DoD) owned the property. DoD piped the Japanese Gulch Creek under the Tank Farm and placed rip-rap along the shore. Those changes reduced the food source for salmon, orcas, seals, birds, and other marine organisms. Daylighting the Gulch will help restore the natural estuary to improve salmon habitat.
In 2020, transportation funding took a huge hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pending decision on I-976, and the need to construct new fish passages, adding a great deal of strain on our transportation budget. As a result, Gov. Jay Inslee put many projects on hold. The 2021-23 transportation budget restores paused projects and continues the work of building a transportation system for the future, with investments in reducing congestion, green transportation, mass transit, fish passages, and other critical projects.
These are some of the projects in our district:
Everett Electric Bus Chargers
$1.2 Million for new induction stations at College Station and Everett Station in preparation for a new electric bus fleet. The state is supporting Everett Transit’s proactive approach for green public transportation – a critical component of our goals for a green future.
I-405 to SR-522 Improvements
$640 Million to continue work on the expansion of I-405. Primarily this will extend the tolling late all the way to Lynnwood and update the interchanges at SR-522 and SR-527.
I-5 and SR-525 Interchange
$20 Million to improve access to Lynnwood from I-5. This will make it easier and safer to access Lynnwood for visitors shopping at Alderwood Mall and residents making their way home from their commutes.
General Ferry Terminal and Vessel Maintenance and Preservation
Hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated to finish the construction of the new Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal, improvements to the Edmonds Terminal, maintenance of our existing vessel fleet, and purchase of a new hybrid ferry. We are very excited about the new Mukilteo terminal. If you have not had the chance to visit yet, We hope you are able to see the beautiful new terminal soon.
SR-99 Revitalization in Edmonds
$16.5 Million is allocated for revitalization of SR-99 in Edmonds. This money had originally been allocated to a different Edmonds project but as that project lost viability, we pushed to keep the investment in this community. The improvements to SR-99 in Edmonds will make for a much more livable and safe community.