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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's official. After 176 days that included a regular session, two special sessions and part of a third, the Legislature finally adjourned. While it's disappointing it took lawmakers going into triple overtime to resolve their disagreements, I believe this operating budget is a huge win for people across our state. Here are some of the major highlights:
- Makes historic investments in K-12 education by investing $1.3 billion in expanding full-day kindergarten, reducing class-sizes, and increasing funding for materials, supplies and operating costs.
- Reduces cost of tuition at our state's four-year and two-year institutions (15 percent at research institutions, 20 percent at regional universities and 5 percent at CTC's).
- Provides cost-of-living adjustments to teachers and public employees.
- Makes significant investments in early learning and child care by funding the Early Start Act and expanding ECEAP.
- Increases funding for in-home care providers, and other long-term care and developmental disability program enhancements. (As our elderly population increases, the need for at-home caregivers and nurses is vitally important. We must have a capable and reliable workforce to meet those needs, and compensate these caregivers for the work they do in providing a quality of life for our senior citizens so they may remain at home as long as possible).
- Addresses court-ordered improvements to the state's mental health system.
We accomplished all of this, and much more, without major tax increases or new taxes. We also were able to extend several tax incentives, including one for food processors.
The two-year capital budget also passed with bipartisan support and has been signed by the governor. I was proud to serve on the Capital Budget committee this year and secure some necessary projects in the 16th District. Some of these include park renovations, the Walla Walla Community Teen Center, the Waitsburg Main Street bridge replacement and more. You can read a full list by visiting fiscal.wa.gov, clicking “Map Capital Projects” and selecting the 16th Legislative District.
Operating budget good for early learning, child care
I believe early learning for all children sets them on a path to success in their educational career and beyond, and this budget is a big achievement for early learning expansion in our state. The Early Start Act, which I co-sponsored with Rep. Ruth Kagi, receives $94 million in this budget. The act will improve early learning and child care requirements and objectives, while increasing transparency between providers, families and the state.
The two-year budget also provides $41 million for ECEAP expansion.
Transportation package passes, funds completion of Phase 7 of Highway 12 and other district projects
The Legislature also passed a $16.8 billion transportation package. This package received bipartisan support and funds major projects throughout the state, provides for congestion relief and freight mobility improvements, and creates jobs. In the end, this package will prove to be good for commuters, employers and our economy. It also protects consumers against a costly low carbon fuel standard.
The transportation budget significantly benefits our district by funding the following important projects:
- Completion of Phase 7 of Highway 12 — 11-mile stretch from Nine Mile Hill to Woodward Canyon vicinity. $168 million.
- Red Mountain Interchange — I-82 interchange reconfiguration at Benton City. $28 million.
- Lewis Street Overpass — This narrow entrance to Pasco, built in 1937, will be widened and reconfigured to allow for better traffic flow. $26 million.
Stay in touch
As always, I appreciate all of your questions, ideas and concerns you have shared with me and my legislative assistant, Skyler. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need help navigating state government, have questions or want to meet with us in district. It's an honor serving you.
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000