Tax dollars continue to pour into state coffers

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106 Newhouse Building ● P.O. Box 40404 ● Olympia WA 98504-0404

Report from Olympia |  October 2, 2018

Green Bluff
Fall in Green Bluff. Green Bluff Growers is an association of small family farms and food stands. Seasonal activities include pick-your-own fruit and annual festivals such as Blooms on the Bluff, Strawberry Celebration, Cherry Festival Cherry Pickers’ Trot and Pit Spit, Peach Festival, Apple Festival, Holiday Memories.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I realize a change of seasons doesn’t mean people suddenly have more free time – early fall is no less busy for most folks than summer. Knowing that, I thank each and every one of you who made the effort to meet at the Rocket Bakery for my recent coffee conversations. It was great to directly hear your concerns and ideas for better government.

If you were not able to attend our coffee meetings, don’t worry. You can call my legislative office at any time. We want to hear from you!

In the meantime, please enjoy this issue of my Report from Olympia. In it we discuss the continuing good economic news that has a record level of revenue coming into the state treasury. You can also watch video of a recent discussion on school safety, in which I participated.

Thanks again for the honor of representing you in the Washington State Senate.


Senator Mike Padden

In the News:

WSU alumnus, Army Special Forces medic receives Medal of Honor

By Will Campbell, Spokesman-Review | Sep. 26, 2018


A graduate of Washington State University [received] the Medal of Honor on Monday at the White House.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer was serving as a medic with the 3rd Special Forces Group in the Shok Valley of Afganistan, where his team was fighting key members of Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin, a militant group battling U.S. and coalition forces.

According to an Army news release, the Special Forces unit was taking heavy fire from snipers and rocket-propelled grenades in April 2008 when Shurer moved “through a hail of bullets” to reach the team. Shurer began treating a soldier’s neck wound inflicted by an RPG blast, then fought and killed multiple insurgents and provided aid to four more American soldiers and 10 injured Afghan commandos. A bullet hit his helmet and he was also shot in the arm, the news release stated. Despite his injury, he pulled a soldier to cover and treated him.

Shurer then helped evacuate three wounded soldiers down a 60-foot, near-vertical cliff “while avoiding rounds of enemy gunfire and falling debris caused by numerous airstrikes.”

Shurer, who is originally from Puyallup, graduated from WSU in 2001 with a business economics degree and enlisted in the Army in September 2002 in Spokane. In 2006, he was promoted to staff sergeant and served with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan from November 2007 to May 2008.

You can read the full article about this hero by clicking here.

KIRO-TV News: Statewide backlog of blood tests holds up prosecutors

Click here to watch this video now.

Note: This story is about the backlog of forensic blood tests at the state lab, and the impact it is having on prosecuting DUIs. The state patrol needs to take measures to greatly reduce or eliminate this backlog. This is a question of leadership and priorities. Patrol leadership needs to take DUIs more seriously.

There's a new problem in the fight to get drunken and drugged drivers off the streets. The state is struggling with a growing backlog of blood toxicology tests, as more people are getting pulled over. And now the wait on results for a lab blood test is up to six months – which impacts prosecutors trying to convict DUI suspects.

The lab is dealing with a backlog of 6,000 cases, and that backlog is growing.

Getting blood-draw results is a waiting game for King County deputy prosecutor Amy Freedheim.

“A year and a half ago we started noticing a longer time. It was last spring three to four months, over the summer it has just exploded now to five to six months,” Freedheim said.

On the wall of her office - the faces of victims, killed by drivers under  the influence.

“I wanted to remember my victims. Because I never get to meet them. I only know them through their families,” Freedheim said.

But when evidence is held up in the lab, Freedheim said that’s a big cause for concern.

“It can impact public safety because you've got people who we've got strong suspicion they're DUI but we're not able to file charges against them,” Freedheim said.

It means suspects are free to drive under the influence again while families are left waiting up to a year for a suspect to be charged.

There are several reasons for the growing caseload.

Freedheim said as people grow more comfortable with the idea of pot, more are also getting behind the wheel high, which raises the number of drug DUI’s.

“We’ve seen for the first time in decades, an increase in impaired driving fatalities,” Freedheim said.

Legislature must use record revenue growth to protect taxpayers

Booming economy results in updated budget forecast

Revenue Chart

Last week’s meeting of the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council saw the state’s chief economist announce the latest projections involving state government’s finances: a $348 million increase in projected revenues for the ongoing 2017-19 budget cycle and another $443 million increase for state government’s 2019-21 fiscal biennium.

The September 2017 forecast projected $44 billion in revenue during the 2017-19 budget cycle. The new numbers, which continue a streak of positive quarterly revenue forecasts, boost revenues for the same period to $45.6 billion. And it’s a $1.9 billion increase in forecasted revenue over the projection made in June 2017.

Revenue growth for the current biennium is now expected to be $6.6 billion (going from $39 billion to $45.6 billion), equal to 16.9% growth this biennia.     

Such strong growth, not surprisingly, triggers an “Extraordinary Revenue Growth” deposit into the state’s constitutional rainy day fund.

All told, revenues are nearly $900 million higher than what was expected when the 2018 session ended in March. State government is projected to have its highest reserve level in history at the end of the current biennium, with $3.25 billion.

While this flood of good news continues to pour in, I believe that we cannot lose sight of some basic economic realities. For one, no economic boom lasts forever. The last time we saw this level of growth was right before the economic collapse of 2008.

That being the case, now is not the time to expand government. Now is the time to think long-term, and make significant contributions to reducing state government’s long-term pension costs, which will save taxpayers money down the road.

Legislators also now have an opportunity to reward taxpayers with substantial relief. The good economic news also includes the fact that state employment growth recently outpaced national growth in every major category except one: manufacturing. Providing tax relief for our manufacturers, especially in rural areas, received broad bipartisan support last year before the measure to achieve it was vetoed by Governor Inslee. I will be urging my fellow lawmakers to revisit this issue in light of this new extraordinary revenue growth. Now is the perfect time to let manufacturers keep more of their own money so that they can invest in growing jobs and keeping the state economy strong.

To read the revenue forecast materials for yourself, please click here.

Plummeting enrollment at Evergreen makes Fox News

Fox News
Click here to watch the full report.

The Evergreen State College has been making national news lately – unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons.

Last month, the Olympia-based school – one of our state-funded baccalaureate institutions – was featured on a segment of Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show that highlighted “campus craziness.” According to the segment, freshman enrollment at Evergreen has plummeted since the infamous “Day of Absence” unrest in 2017 that included the targeting of now-former professor Bret Weinstein.  You can watch this report here.

This was followed up by another Fox News report on September 14 that Evergreen was forced to apologize for using taxpayer funds to transport students and educators to a protest at a family farm nearly 180 miles away. Evergreen President George Bridges apologized and said half a dozen faculty members have been “strongly reprimanded.”

Click here to read this latest report.

School safety a focus when school board members gather in Spokane


On September 21 and 22, Spokane hosted the Washington State School Directors Association’s 2018 Legislative Assembly. The gathering is an annual event, made all the more important because school board directors vote on and prioritize WSSDA's legislative positions.

I was invited to attend the conference to participate in a panel discussion on the local, regional and state perspectives on student and school safety policy. Joining me were:

  • Brady Olson, a social studies teacher in the North Thurston and Tumwater school districts, who tackled a school shooter in 2015;
  • Dr. Michael Dunn, superintendent of NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101 since July 2008;
  • Chris Nation, a member of the Marysville School Board of Directors since 2009;
  • Martin Mueller, assistant superintendent of student engagement and support at the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for the past three years, who has over 20 years’ experience implementing and overseeing student health, safety, and support initiatives; and
  • Sen. Lisa Wellman, my colleague in the state Senate, who represents the 41st Legislative District and serves on the board of Thrive (focused on early childhood education).

I discussed Senate Bill 6410, my bill that would have required first responders to notify public and private schools during any situation in their vicinity that would warrant an evacuation or lockdown. The bill would have also created two school-safety centers – one in eastern Washington and one in western Washington. While the bill unanimously passed the Senate, it stalled in the House. Fortunately, we were able to get support for the change into the budget as a proviso – meaning it is good for a couple of years. We will need to go back and codify it again next session.

To watch our full panel discussion, click here or on the image below.

Click here to watch our panel discussion.


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