In our closing e-newsletter of the 2016 session, I want to share with you a little about the operating and capital budgets and how they work together to support our priorities.
In this supplemental budget, it was imperative that we confront our state’s teacher and substitute teacher shortage. To address the issue, in part, we are investing in new mentoring and training programs for teachers and paraeducators. We also made it easier for retired teachers to substitute.
If you’ve been to one of our local schools, you are all too aware of the hundreds of portables on school grounds. With the continued population growth, expansion of all-day kindergarten, and need for smaller class sizes, this problem of overcrowding is only getting worse.
Thousands of additional classrooms are desperately needed locally and across our state. Unfortunately, a strong bipartisan House proposal to utilize the state’s Budget Stabilization Account to provide school districts with construction dollars to help meet this emergency was defeated in the Senate.
With over 35,000 homeless students on the streets and a growing number of homeless adults, we had to act. The Homeless Student Stability Act will help increase housing stability and academic performance for homeless students and families. In addition, we made investments in emergency residential services and transitional housing, as well as provided resources to local governments to help prevent and address homelessness.
We also secured $1.4 million for a Bellevue Emergency Shelter! It will provide critical housing and services individuals need to help break the cycle of homelessness. Thank you Rep. Joan McBride for your leadership on this!
Our foster care system is in a tight squeeze. With a shrinking pool of foster parents and an increasing number of foster children, we made desperately needed investments in child placement agencies, performance contracting, and educational supports for foster kids.
For many children, the Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue is a home away from home. Rep. Patty Kuderer helped secure $200,000 to help it expand early learning, afterschool, and dropout prevention programs for the region.
Mental health is at the crossroads of many personal and societal issues. From expanding mobile crisis teams and triage bed access to integrating substance abuse and mental health treatment services, we provided a needed boost of funding to our complicated and underfunded mental health system.
We also initiated a Children’s Mental Health Workgroup, which I am thrilled to help lead, to look at mental health services and barriers for kids through the health care delivery system and through schools.
Holocaust Center for Humanity
am particularly excited about a capital budget item I championed along with Sen. David Frockt—$200,000 to help complete the new Holocaust Center for Humanity. The Center teaches students of all ages to stand up to prejudice and intolerance through the stories and artifacts of local Holocaust survivors.
As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I am proud that we have reiterated our state’s commitment to the values of inclusion, equality, and tolerance. At a time when discrimination, xenophobic sentiments and anti-Semitism appear to be on the rise at home and abroad, this investment is especially critical. Special thanks to Rep. Noel Frame and Sen. Reuven Carlyle for their help as well.
As we wrap up our final e-news for the session, I want to thank you for taking the time to write, e-mail, call, and reach out to me on social media. Your input is critical! Please keep in touch over the interim and I look forward to running into you around the District!