April 7, 2015
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After working through the night Thursday, the Senate moved its no-new-taxes budget forward and passed the two-year budget Monday afternoon. This is good news for the people of our state as the Senate’s budget proposal puts education first, makes needed investments into our mental health system, gives a needed pay raise to most state workers, and lives within our means. Our state is projected to receive $3 billion more in revenue in the coming budget cycle, more than enough to fund the top priorities of government.
No new taxes budget approved by Senate
After vigorous debate, the Senate adopted a budget that prioritizes existing revenue and puts the added $3 billion to good use. Education now comprises 47 percent of the state’s budget, something that hasn’t been seen in decades. We invest vital resources into our mental health system and enact reforms that empower families and reduce wait times for treatment.
Included in the budget is my provision to boost veteran employment. I authored a bill that gives small businesses tax credits to incentivize them to hire veterans. While our state is seeing some improvement in the overall job market, veteran unemployment is still much higher than the rest of the workforce.Our veterans have so many valuable skills to offer and this legislation is designed to help employers tap into this pool of talented workers.Getting this bill to the Governor’s desk is a high priority for me.
Reforming our state’s mental health system has also been a top priority this session. I am sponsoring Senate Bill 5269, known as Joel’s Law, which received a public hearing Monday in the House budget committee. The bill addresses a critical need to reform the state’s mental health system by giving families the opportunity to pursue civil commitment in extraordinary cases. The bill is named for Joel Reuter, a mentally ill man whose parents tried to get him help, but was shot and killed by Seattle police in July 2013. This tragedy could have been prevented if his family had more options to protect him.
The budget includes funding for our state’s social safety net. Last year, I authored a bill that was signed into law which provides foster children with legal representation. Many kids languish for years in the child welfare system without any legal voice of their own. The Senate’s budget provides funding for this program as well as necessary mental health enhancements that increase staffing and timeliness of competency and evaluation services.
In addition to these state-wide issues, I have been able to secure support for local concerns. The Senate’s budget includes funding for a community partnership between Western State Hospital and the City of Lakewood to support community policing efforts.You can read more about this program by clicking here.
I spoke on the Senate floor about how you, the taxpayers, deserve respect for the taxes you already pay. I believe this budget honors taxpayers and upholds the principle of living within our means. Our budget spends the $3 billion in additional revenue without raising taxes.
It is an honor to represent you as your state Senator. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (360)786-7654 if I can be of service to you or your family on those issues that impact you and our community.
28th District Senator
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
– Sir Winston Churchill
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