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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2016 legislative session began Monday, Jan. 11, which means Rep. Terry Nealey and I are back in Olympia for the next two months. Legislators have a number of issues in front of them this session, from the Department of Corrections scandal, to minimum wage discussions, and wildfire recovery and planning. Perhaps two of the most prominent issues have to deal with our public education system:
K-12 education funding: Lawmakers continue to work toward satisfying the state Supreme Court's 2018 deadline under the McCleary decision. Part of that decision included implementing efforts to reduce funding dependence on local levies. Levy reform is an idea being considered to alleviate some of that burden on local jurisdictions, but it is becoming clear that more data is needed for this complicated issue.
Charter schools: The timing of the state Supreme Court's decision to invalidate charter schools was unfair to students and families. Charter schools have been a great answer for families when our public education system has fallen short. I've signed onto a bill that has bipartisan support, and would restore some form of the charter school system.
It's also important to note that this is a supplemental year, meaning we shouldn't see many, if any, new and major policies or spending. The supplemental operating budget is meant to deal with caseload forecasts and emergency appropriations. Lawmakers must stay on task in order to adjourn within the allotted 60 days.
One final note: Rep. Terry Nealey and I are hosting a telephone town hall Tuesday, Jan. 19, to get your input on the session ahead. The hour-long event starts at 6 p.m., and you can participate by calling (509) 885-9012. You can read more details here. I hope you're able to join the community conversation!
I encourage you to stay in touch with me throughout this legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn March 10. Your input is essential to me representing you effectively. To share your ideas, questions or concerns, you can email me at Maureen.Walsh@leg.wa.gov or call my office at (360) 786-7836. Thank you for allowing me to represent you.
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000