Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After 176 days – a regular session, two 30-day special sessions, and part of a third special session, the Legislature finally adjourned on July 10.
The Legislature passed an operating budget on June 29 with the end of the fiscal year looming. I supported the budget as it was historic on many levels. The operating budget:
- invests an additional $1.3 billion in K-12 education, the state's largest education budget in history;
- reduces class sizes in grades K-3;
- provides a cost-of-living raise for teachers and state employees;
- reduces the cost of tuition at the state's four-year colleges and universities and two-year community colleges, the first ever tuition cut;
- makes significant investments in treatment and capacity for our mentally ill and preserves our health and human service safety net;
- increases funding for state parks; and
- accomplishes these things with NO major taxes increases – capital gains, carbon, cap and trade and most B&O tax proposals were taken off the table.
The cut in tuition is a huge win for students and middle class families. The reduction is almost $2,000 per student per year, for a savings of nearly $8,000 over four years. I have seen firsthand the impacts skyrocketing tuition has had on students.
The capital budget – often referred to as the “bricks and mortar” budget since it provides infrastructure for K-12 education, higher education, correctional facilities and other maintenance and preservation projects – passed with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 96-2 in the House and 44-1 in the Senate.
Through the operating and capital budgets we were able to address many issues and needs around the entire 13th Legislative District.
My House Bill 1586 was signed into law. This transfers the Royal Slope railroad right-of-way from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to the Port of Royal Slope. This will expand our rail system and possibly increase business and economic development in the Royal City area.
We were able to get about $21 million for the Port of Moses Lake to reconnect to industrial rail lines for the first time in almost 30 years. This is important for future economic growth in Moses Lake and at the Grant County International Airport.
As part of the operating budget, we were also able to extend tax incentives for food processors and data centers, which will allow these industries to continue to generating good family-wage jobs through construction or economic development.
I secured a provision in the operating budget that may be the answer to the “red zone” water issues in Kittitas County. For those who are not familiar with the issues, the “red zone” refers to landowners in the county who do not have any access to water partly due to inaction by the Department of Ecology. Too read more, click “red zone.”
Central Washington University also received much-needed capital budget funding for:
- Samuelson Building ($56 million);
- Bouillon Hall renovation ($4.9 million);
- New building for our ROTC students ($4.9 million);
- Brooks Library Learning Commons ($4.9 million);
- Old heat – Plant Annex ($4.9 million);
- Nutrition Science ($4.3 million); and
- Preventive maintenance and building system repairs ($2.4 million).
We secured funding in the capital budget for the Harrington Opera House so it will be in compliance with ADA laws.
Stay in touch
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about the legislative session, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to seeing you in district.