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Greetings from Olympia,
We are nearing the end of the 2018 legislative session, which is scheduled to conclude March 8.
It has been awhile since I’ve written to you last; we’ve had quite a bit happen in Olympia, some good, some OK and some bad. I continue to fight for our district and for common sense policies that will benefit all in our state.
The good news:
The state had its update on the revenue forecast. There is an additional $1.3 billion in tax revenue coming to Olympia. That means over $2 billion since we approved the biennial budget last year. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, our state is in the middle of the short legislative session where we work on a supplemental budget that makes minor adjustments.
While it has been a whirlwind of policy bills, the Senate Democrats announced their budget that adheres to some major principles that Republicans have used when we controlled the Senate. I give them kudos for adhering to the state’s four-year balanced budget law, and for resisting attempts to raise taxes on hard-working families.
However, I am fighting to ensure the Legislature uses the extraordinary revenue to provide more tax relief from the 2017 House Democrats’ property tax hike. As part of the solution to fully funding education in our state, the Legislature increased the state portion of the property tax. We had enough revenue then to lower the rate per thousand dollars, but the opposition insisted on spending that money elsewhere, resulting in a property tax spike this year as the education plan is phased in.
We have been fighting to provide real tax relief for Washington’s residents. The revenue forecast indicates you’ve sent us too much of your hard-earned resources and we can afford to provide tax relief. The Democrats’ budget proposal only gives a minor reduction, in some cases laughable. I saw a story on the news that indicated a homeowner in Snohomish County would see a $130 break. This is after the Senate Democratic majority voted against our proposal for $1 billion in property tax relief.
The Senate has been busy working into the night voting on bills. In the dead of night, the majority party took up a piece of legislation that is a blow to government transparency and accountability. Editorials, open government advocates and citizens alike denounced Senate Bill 6199. The legislation was a giveaway to a particular union to circumvent a recent United States Supreme Court ruling it did not like. Via a records request, we obtained a confidential memo from the head of that union to the Governor, requesting legislation that would usurp workers’ constitutional rights. Not only that, it allowed closed-door collective bargaining with one of the Governor’s larger campaign contributors.
I’m not saying that unions are a bad thing, but this bill is not about the workers in our state having a fair wage or other benefits that come from collective bargaining. Consider that these arrangements force home health care workers, most of whom earn less than $15 an hour and are parents or relatives caring for ill loved ones, to join a union without their consent. Unlike other public sector unions, whose contribution rates are around 1.5 percent, these workers would have to pay double that – on average about $1,000 per year taken from these low-wage workers. Not to mention the significant amount of money the state must pay, over $25 million per year.
Click here to read a recent editorial about this debacle.
Improving our state’s access to health care
The state Senate unanimously approved my legislation to allow for expedited processing of applications for adult family homes under certain circumstances. Senate Bill 6113 is aimed at creating stability for residents. The bill would direct the Department of Social and Health Services… read more.
The Senate also approved Senate Bill 5180, which would formally establish a Legislative Advisory Committee on Aging. A similar panel existed from 2013 through mid-2017. My bill would launch the committee in mid-2019 for another two years. The bill was approved unanimously. Read more…
This past Wednesday night Senate Democrats voted down my common-sense approach to addressing student mental health in our state. Prior to the Senate’s passage of a House bill on the subject, I proposed an amendment based on language from my legislation, Senate Bill 6618, that would require a credentialed mental-health counselor in every school in the state. My suggestion was rejected on a caucus-line vote. Read more…
It is an honor to serve as your state Senator. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns regarding your state government.
Your State Senator