Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It was a busy first week in Olympia as I and my colleagues in the House and Senate took the oath of office and began the 2015 legislative session. The opening ceremonies highlighted the rich traditions of the Legislature and Washington state and provided an opportunity to look forward to doing the people’s work over the next 105 days.
For the first several weeks of session, committee work will be spent receiving updates from state agencies and other groups, and learning more about legislative proposals. I am the ranking member on the General Government and Information Technology Committee, and serve on the Appropriation Committee. Throughout session, I will keep you informed on the issues coming before these, and other House committees.
Below are some of the issues I am focused on as session gets underway:
Fund Education First
The oath I took this week makes clear our obligation to “…uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, [and] the Constitution and laws of the State of Washington….” I take this responsibility seriously and believe this pledge starts with fully funding K-12 education, which our constitution states is our paramount duty. My bill to fully fund education first, House Bill 1001, was formally introduced. House Bill 1001 would require the Legislature to send the governor a stand-alone education budget by March 31st in biennial budget years and February 15th in supplemental budget years. I am working with my colleagues in the House in order to get this important bill a hearing.
This week, Gov. Inslee delivered his State of the State Address and laid out his agenda and priorities for 2015. I am disappointed to report that he offered no new ideas or solutions to address the issues we are facing in Washington. The governor simply dusted off previous speeches and proposals and called for the Legislature to raise taxes on Washingtonians by $1.5 billion, breaking a promise he made back in 2012. I disagree with Gov. Inslee and believe we must focus our efforts on prioritizing state spending and making simple, but effective reforms to state government. Revenue collections in Washington are up over 8 percent for this budget cycle as the economy begins to stabilize. Many in the state, including in the 35th Legislative District, are still recovering from the Great Recession and I am committed to ensuring they are not forgotten in the budget writing process.
The most important part of my job is to be a voice for you. As bills are introduced and issues arise during the legislative session, I encourage you to contact my office to share your thoughts with me. You play a critical role in the legislative process and I am always happy to meet with you on issues important to our communities. I also encourage you to come to Olympia to testify in committee on bills important to you. My Legislative Assistant, Josiah Rowell, will also be happy to assist you with making an appointment or dealing with a state agency.