Unfinished Business

 

End of Session Update

July 25, 2017 

La Conner

Greetings from Olympia

The Legislature’s third special session ended this past Thursday without resolution on some very important issues. While our Senate majority was ready to work toward bipartisan agreement on the remaining budget for 2017-19 (the capital budget, which funds public construction projects) and a fix for rural household wells, House Democrats left the building – literally. Words cannot adequately describe my disappointment as the Senate waited for hours for the House to bring these important pieces of legislation to a vote, only to find out via social media that negotiations were over and that the House majority’s members had packed up and gone home.

I stayed in Olympia until late in the evening after the Senate adjourned. The governor did not call for an immediate special session to finish this work, but our negotiators will continue to reach out to their House counterparts in hopes of reaching agreements so that we can return to Olympia and vote.

 

The Senate Majority Leader offered his thoughts on the end of the session. Take a moment to read his latest blog post here

Unfinished Business

We have been clear since the beginning of the 2017 legislative session that we need a legislative solution to the problems created by the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, which has in effect halted rural development. It wasn’t until recently that House Democrats and the governor even acknowledged that denying citizens access to water is a problem.

You may have heard that the Senate was holding the state's construction budget "hostage," but that's a matter of perspective. In fact, the Senate unanimously passed a capital budget in March of this year and a bipartisan fix for rural household wells. We all agree that the investments from the capital budget are important, but water is a human right. By taking the position that state government’s construction projects shouldn’t be prioritized ahead of family-home construction in areas not served by community water systems, we finally got the attention of urban legislators who have been apathetic about the needs of rural Washingtonians.

The Senate approved a solution (Senate Bill 5239, to ensure that water is available to support development) four times, with solid bipartisan votes, but the House majority has been unable or unwilling to approve that bill or come up with a solution of their own. Our bill would give the authority back to the state Department of Ecology to make determinations of water availability instead of requiring counties and individual property owners to so. Counties do not have the resources or expertise to duplicate what Ecology has been doing for decades.

 

You can read more about the Hirst situation by clicking here.

Investing our Children's Future

K12

Our Senate majority has consistently championed investing in education since we began governing in 2013. Since then, we have successfully advocated for the passage of budgets that put more than $4.5 billion into our state’s K-12 system.

 

Overall, this has been an historic year for students in our state. The new budget that legislators approved June 30 completes our state’s work on the McCleary lawsuit by investing over $7 billion in the next four years. Our plan is the result of a strong bipartisan compromise that puts students first. You may have heard the “spin” about how this will mean property-tax increases. The reality is that some wealthier districts will see a slight increase in property taxes, but over the long term, 73 percent of taxpayers will see a decrease in their property tax bills overall. I believe this is a much better avenue for meeting our state’s paramount duty (providing for K-12 education) than the approach of the governor and House Democrats, who had wanted $8 billion in new taxes on small business, income and energy.

 

While some special interest groups within the education community are already displeased with the Legislature’s action, the fact remains that “fully funding” basic education is a straightforward task. The Legislature defined basic education in years past, and non-partisan financial analysts determined the costs of meeting that obligation are reflected in the two-year budget agreement we just adopted. These new investments mean that we are ensuring that all children in our state will receive a high-quality education regardless of ZIP code.

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Staying in touch

 

 

It is an honor to serve as your state Senator. Now that the legislative session has ended, I am looking forward to connecting with you back in district. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with questions or concerns regarding your state government or to schedule an appointment to meet with me. 

 

Sincerely,

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Barbara Bailey,

Your State Senator

 

Contact me

 

Olympia Office:

407 Legislative Building

 

P.O. Box 40410, Olympia, WA 98504

 

Olympia Phone:

 

360.786.7618  

 

Email:

 

Barbara.Bailey@leg.wa.gov

 

Website:

 

Click Here