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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we close the third week of the scheduled 105-day session in Olympia, I wanted to take a few minutes to bring you up to date.
Education – Fund it first? Or delay and punt?
This week sharply contrasted how Democrats and Republicans in the House would address the education funding issue.
On Tuesday, majority Democrats voted to extend a temporary property tax increase that was scheduled to expire next January. This issue goes back to 2010 when the Legislature approved a temporary increase in the levy lid from 24 percent to 28 percent to allow school districts to collect additional money. Some have been fearful of what is being called a “levy cliff.” In other words, the levy lid reverts back to 24 percent on Jan. 1, 2018, leaving schools without that additional funding source.
Keep in mind that we are currently working on a solution in the Legislature THIS session that would reduce local school districts' overreliance on levies. Apparently, Democrats have no faith that the process will be carried out. Instead, they passed legislation that would extend the levy lid increase for an additional year.
This short-term fix effectively removes the pressure on the Legislature to come up with a long-term solution this session. That's why I and many of my House Republican colleagues voted against it. We felt it was like the Seahawks coming out on the field and their first action early in the game is to punt the ball.
As Rep. Bruce Chandler, Republican budget leader, said on the floor, “The House is resigning itself to failure. It's saying it's not even going to try to resolve the issues that lay before us in a timely manner.” The bill passed 62-35.
Here's our solution: Fund education first!
House Republicans want to create a separate K-12 education budget before any other appropriations. The measure to do this is House Bill 1021, sponsored by Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union.
Fund Education First is a concept we came up with more than a decade ago. When we've tried to bring this bill to the floor year after year to make education funding the state's number one priority, our Democratic colleagues have killed the bill.
This week, as Democrats pushed for a temporary education funding fix, we proposed a permanent solution on the House floor. During adoption of the House rules process, Republicans proposed an amendment that simply said, “funding for the fiscal biennium, appropriations for the purposes of basic education, as defined by the Legislature, and other K-12 education purposes must be enacted into law before it is in order for the house to take a final passage vote on omnibus operating or transportation appropriations legislation.'” Unfortunately, Democrats rejected the amendment on a party-line, 50-48 vote.
We could have had a chance for the House to unify in making education funding a priority, but our friends on the other side of the aisle said “no!” So House Republicans will continue to pursue passage of Rep. MacEwen's bill in the House Appropriations Committee, because making education funding the highest priority is not only a constitutional requirement, it is the right thing to do for the children of our state.
Save the date! Telephone town hall, Feb 21 — 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Rep. John Koster and I will be holding a telephone town hall on Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. To join the community conversation, please call (425) 616-1855. Similar to a call-in radio show, the format allows you to ask questions, participate in poll questions, or just listen in throughout the hour. We hope you can join us!
39th District Pulse Survey
Thanks to all who participated in my survey that was open from Dec. 1 to Jan. 16. We had lots of thoughtful and individual responses — too many to share here. However, I wanted to take a moment to share the chart below that shows collective responses on the issues that matter most to the citizens of the 39th District.
I asked, “What are your legislative priorities?”
Stay in touch
Your Legislature works best to represent the people when you are involved. Please keep in touch with my office any time you have questions, comments or suggestions about state government and legislation. My legislative assistant will be happy to help you. Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!
In your service,
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000