Special Session Update – June 11, 2015
Friends and Neighbors,
As the third week of the second special session winds down, the Senate continues to negotiate in good faith with our House counterparts to align our spending priorities. However, we remain adamant that the final budget must live within our means. The state is projected to bring in $3.2 billion more in revenue, an increase of 12%, and we can fund the real priorities of government without raising taxes. House Democrat leadership insists on pushing for new taxes but have failed to bring them to a vote, which tells us there is likely insufficient support even among rank and file House Democrats.
During the regular session the Senate passed a no-new-taxes budget that fully funds basic education, including a pay raise for teachers, increases spending on health care, substantially cuts college tuition, and preserves our social safety net with existing resources. We certainly hope that House Democrats are not preparing to force a state government shutdown for ideological reasons. As I have said, an 11% increase in revenue means we do not need new taxes. We have until July 1st to reach a budget agreement, and I am confident level-heads will prevail, and House leaders will abandon their demand for a new state income tax on capital gains and pass a budget.
My bills signed by the Governor
The legislature is at work in the special session. We passed two of my bills that were signed into law on Wednesday. One focuses on child abuse prevention and the other provides needed reforms to our state’s mental health system.
Senate Bill 5079 requires that the state Department of Social and Health Services notify the military regarding child abuse and neglect allegations of families with an active military status. The Department of Defense currently has agreements with Child Protective Services but there are no statutory reporting requirements. The DoD was in full support of this legislation. Our state is the first in the nation to pass such a law to help protect the 55,000 military children who call Washington home.
A recent federal court case shined a light on cracks in our state’s mental health system where scores of people around the state are waiting more than a week for evaluations. You can read a recent story on this issue here. The governor signed Senate Bill 5177 that aims to improve the timeliness of evaluation and restorative services for mentally-ill criminal defendants. The measure is a bipartisan effort that allows for increased speed and flexibility in providing services that are now available only at Washington’s two state-run psychiatric hospitals. The measure also establishes criteria for oversight of these services, shortens timelines for placement and provides access to documentation in competency proceedings.
U.S. Open Coming Soon
Our community has been recognized around the world for the work we’ve done to welcome the U.S. Open. I sponsored a resolution in the Senate recognizing the significant cultural and economic contributions this event will bring. I was pleased to do my part to ensure this event is a success by not only securing funding for critical environmental cleanup work at Chambers Bay, but also $750,000 for the enhanced security that will be required for the event.
I will be attending the championship, however I declined the offer for free attendance and instead chose to pay my own way. I am excited to showcase all that Pierce County has to offer. This event is expected to produce $140 million in economic activity in our community and is projected to bring $8 million in tax revenue to the state. The 235,000 visitors everyday will spur construction, retail, hospitality and other tourism activity as well as local job opportunities. The U.S. Open is a big plus for Pierce County but will benefit surrounding counties as well. Click here to see my remarks on the Senate floor during the resolution.
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 with issues pertaining to Washington State government.
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
Share my E-newsletter
Do you know others who live in our district who may not be receiving my e-news updates? Please feel free to forward this e-mail invitation to them or click on the share button below.