Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature has finally adjourned for the year after 80 days and yet another special session. More than 30 offers were exchanged between House and Senate negotiators as they worked to craft a budget. In the end, we produced a true supplemental budget that passed by a vote of 78-17. I voted yes.
As I said in my last update, a supplemental budget should be focused on addressing emergencies, increased entitlement caseloads and fixing errors in the biennial budget – not enacting new policy that increases spending. The budget we passed addressed important issues including wildfire recovery efforts throughout Washington and it keeps the voter-approved public charter schools open across the state. We also made modest but important investments in mental health and K-12 education – without raising taxes.
Here are some of the funding highlights in this year's supplemental budget:
- $5.2 million for the BEST program and Paraeducator certification.
- $4.2 million to keep public charter schools open and operating in Washington.
- $7.8 million for reimbursement to state colleges and universities for last year's historic tuition cuts.
- $18 million to maintain state need grant funding with the College Bound program.
- $2 million for expanding the number of mobile crisis teams.
- $6.8 million for additional state hospital registered nurses at Western State Hospital.
- $4.3 million for health home services.
- $29 million for home health care individual provider overtime related to changes in federal law.
- $190 million for wildfire suppression costs related to the 2015 wildfire season.
For a full overview of the 2016 supplemental budget, click here.
No budget is perfect, but having a divided government has created a need for compromise that hasn't been part of the budget process for several years. That being said, House Republicans stood firm in support of the four-year balanced budget required by state law. This is an important protection for taxpayers and those who rely on services that would be affected by an economic downturn. I will continue to fight for balanced and sustainable budgets that meet the needs of students, families and our most vulnerable.
During my time in the House, I have fought for priorities you have shared with me – especially holding the line on new and increased taxes, and working to reform state government while improving K-12 education for students. Even though we had yet another special session – the seventh under Jay Inslee's administration – your voice has been heard in Olympia.
With session adjourned, I am looking forward to being back in district. Working in our community to help solve problems is one of my favorite parts of being your state representative. Please contact me with your questions, concerns and comments on issues important to you. If you would like me to visit your community group, school, or business please contact my office to make arrangements.