Thanks to all of you who participated in our telephone town hall on Wednesday. We had a great conversation and were able to touch on many topics that are important for our district, including housing, the opioid crisis, mental health, and clean energy. For those of you that didn’t get a chance to hear me, Rep. Sells, and Senator McCoy answer questions from constituents, you can listen to the whole thing here.
Why does the state budget process take so long?
One of the most important duties of the Washington State Legislature is to pass the state’s three budgets – operating, capital, and transportation. Because negotiations on the budget typically last until the very end of the session, it can seem like legislators procrastinate working on the budget all session and try to cram it in at the end.
I am often asked why the work on the budget doesn’t begin much sooner. As one of the lead budget negotiators for the House Democrats, I can attest to the fact that the work begins before the first day of session and the team of legislators that write our budgets spend up to six hours each day throughout session going through the budget line by line to make the best decisions for the people of Washington.
In December, the Governor puts forth a proposal for each of the budgets. Then during session, the House and Senate majority parties, along with their colleagues across the aisle, each propose their own budgets. Because any legislation, including the budget, needs to pass out of the House and Senate and be signed by the Governor, there is a need to find common ground between all three budget proposals. Even though it may seem like the decisions are being made at the very end, the process of coming to agreement on the budget takes all session.
For a more in depth look at the state budget process, check out the Office of Financial Management’s Guide to the Washington State Budget Process.
Shining a light on prescription drug prices
Like many of you, I have read and heard stories about sudden and extreme price increases for life-saving drugs like insulin or EpiPens.
Medicine that people rely on to keep them healthy should never be out of reach because of cost. Even without sudden price jumps too many people are having to make hard choices each month about whether to pay for medicine or put food on the table.
For the past few years, I have been working on legislation to bring more transparency to prescription drug prices. On Friday, the House Health Care and Wellness committee passed House Bill 1224, which will require insurance companies to report on the 25 prescription drugs that have the largest increase in prices over the last year. Additionally, the bill will require that drug manufacturers provide explanations for cost increases.
I know from my recent survey that many of you are concerned with the cost of healthcare. While there are lots of reasons why health care costs are expensive, this bill will provide the information we need to make sure drug companies aren’t unjustly padding their pockets while leaving people who need medication at risk.
Thank you for taking the time to read about what is happening down here in Olympia.
Representative June Robinson
38th Legislative District.