Budget Season: See how we propose funding Washington’s programs



The Washington State Senate Majority Coalition Caucus holds a press conference in the state reception room to release their operating budget, March 21, 2017.

Senate Majority Coalition Caucus announces and passes its 2017-19 budget proposal

We released our 2017-19 budget to the public Tuesday and passed it in the Senate yesterday. You can read all the budget details by visiting our website.

Some of the benefits of our budget include:

  • Fully funds basic education in Washington State.
  • Caps local levies at $1.55 per $1,000 value of your property – applying a uniform statewide rate.
  • Cuts property taxes for every school district in the 2nd District while providing them with more money for their students.
  • Maintains the cuts to higher education tuition and opens up 1,800 more spots for residents at University of Washington, Washington State University and the three regional universities with 70% of those spots reserved for majors in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
  • Makes significant investments in mental health in an effort to move low-risk patients into community mental health facilities instead of “warehousing” them at Western State Hospital.
  • Fully funds pay increases for state troopers and corrections employees.
  • Reduces the amount of time foster children are in the system before they are eligible for adoption and increases payments to foster homes with older, harder-to-place children.
  • Increases services for people with developmental disabilities and provides additional funding to the Developmentally Disabled Community Trust so people can get more support within their own communities.

This budget is a starting point. The House Majority Democrats will release their budget next week and negotiations will begin. There is no reason why we can’t come to an agreement on the budget and on the education plan and end this session on time.

Unfortunately though, a “special session” is a possibility, but I assure you that every one of us in Olympia wants to do the right thing for the people of Washington – even if we disagree about how to do it.

My legislation included in the budget

The budget our caucus released earlier this week included money for two pieces of my legislation.

  • $250,000 to study and make recommendations for a seismic and lahar warning system that could save lives in the event of debris flows coming from Mount Rainier. The study will identify our current capabilities and necessary improvements.
  • $150,000 to fund classes provided by Pierce College in cooperation with the Bethel School District in Graham. Since the 2nd Legislative District does not have a college, this is a first step toward providing our area with higher education opportunities.

The Senate passed our budget, which will now be considered by the House of Representatives. The House might attach amendments to the budget before it returns to the Senate for a final vote, but I’m confident that these budget provisos will be enacted in the end.

Ruth Dowies third grade class at Fort Stevens Elementary School in Yelm, Washington.

Update: Fully Funding Education

It’s been more than 50 days since the Senate passed a fully funded education plan. The only thing we have seen from House Democrats is a wishlist that doesn’t identify any revenue sources that they would receive enough votes to pass.

We passed the Education Equality Act and our 2017-19 budget, which makes fully funding education the TOP priority. In fact, our budget would increase education spending to more than 50% of the entire budget, which hasn’t happened since 1983, when Gov. Spellman was in office.

Fulfilling our paramount duty should not be second, third or fourth on their list of priorities. It needs to be FIRST.

We are trusting them to make good on their word and pass a realistic plan that can be used in negotiations. But we’re still waiting. And so are the people of Washington.

This week at the Capitol

Former Seahawk Ricardo Lockette stopped by the Legislature this week to share information about the research Seattle scientists are conducting to create a 3-D map of the spine. After his own spinal injury ended his football career, Ricardo dedicated himself to exceeding doctors’ expectations and to helping promote research on spinal injuries.

“We’re here to eliminate paralysis,” he said.

It was an honor to meet this inspirational man.

Our caucus leadership met with British Consul General Andrew Whittaker this to discuss current and future economic development and trade with the United Kingdom and to learn more about the British educational system, its government and its K-12 and higher education system.

Increasing trade with the U.K. after it leaves the European Union looks promising. We discovered that because much of the literature on wine comes out of the U.K., many of our Washington wine makers export their products there so that wine experts can share the great news about our wines worldwide.

Consul General Whittaker’s visit also gave us an opportunity to express our sincere condolences for the ISIS attack near London’s Parliament Building on March 22.

My Senate Page: Sayler Sanne’

This week I sponsored Sayler Sanne’ as my Senate page. Sayler is in the 8th grade at Evergreen Christian School.

Sayler enjoys soccer, running and hiking. Paging gave her an opportunity to learn about other students’ viewpoints, but also challenged her to stand up for what she feels is right even when it’s not popular.

Her mom, Tiffani, is my legislative assistant. Sayler is the fourth Sanne’ child to page for the Senate and the third to page for me. That’s dedicated family service!

I have been so pleased to work with her and am happy she learned so much from the experience.