Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 regular legislative session came to an end last Friday. Unfortunately, the Legislature adjourned without reaching agreement on some key items, including an operating budget, so the governor called a special session, which started this Wednesday, April 29.
I am disappointed a special session will be needed. The state has an increase of $3 billion more in tax collections this budget cycle. That should be enough to substantially invest in K-12 education, protect our most vulnerable citizens and address mental health issues, and provide some type of tuition reduction.
Budget writers are already meeting, so I hope we can quickly reach an agreement. Negotiations are also ongoing to reach agreement on a capital budget and a possible transportation funding plan.
One Business, One Vet signed into law
The final week of the session was highlighted by my first piece of legislation being signed into law. House Bill 2040, my “One Business, One Vet” bill, was signed into law by Gov. Inslee. It was a very exciting moment. I was surrounded by veterans, Washington State's Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Lourdes E. Alvarado-Ramos, representatives from the Washington Retail Association and Association of Washington Business, and many others.
I truly believe this hiring campaign will benefit employers in Washington state as well as the veterans who have returned home and are hoping to find a job.
You have probably heard that some local teachers' unions on the west side of the mountains held one-day strikes to protest the Legislature. The Washington Education Association (WEA), the state's largest teachers' union, has been running radio ads making false claims about the Senate education funding proposal. I think it is important to clarify some of the misinformation.
- WEA's claim: State Senate Republicans voted to “shortchange” pay and benefits for teachers and school staff.
- FACT: The Senate operating budget would bring teacher COLAs to voter-approved levels.
- WEA's claim: State Senate Republicans voted to increase class sizes – even for kids in high-poverty schools.
- FACT: The bipartisan Senate capital budget would build 2,100 more classrooms to reduce K-3 class sizes.
- WEA's claim: The Senate Republicans are likely getting an 11 percent pay increase.
- FACT: The Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials determines lawmaker salaries and raises, NOT the Legislature. If it is decided lawmakers will receive a raise, it will be ALL lawmakers.
Heartland Institute reports on Internet Tax Freedom Act bill
The Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit research organization that publishes stories on major public policy issues interviewed me on my Internet Tax Freedom Act bill, House Bill 2166. As I mentioned in a previous email update, there are a lot of politics being played with this measure at both the state and federal level. To read the Heartland's article click: Internet Access Tax Ban Proposed in Washington State.
Because of its fiscal implications, my bill could still be considered in the special session, but it is difficult to predict what may happen with everything undecided.
During the final week of session, I had the honor of sponsoring Karen Lopez-Ramirez in the House Page Program. Karen is a student from Eisenhower High School. She hopes to work at a children's hospital some day.
To learn more about the page program click here. If you have children ages between 14 and 16, please keep in mind we will looking for pages next fall for the 2016 session.
Keep in touch
We may be in special session, but your questions, comments and concerns are important to me. If you have any input regarding the budgets or other issues we may be working on during the special session, please do not hesitant to contact my office.
I look forward to finishing the special session and being back in the district this interim.
Honored to serve you,