Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's official. The Legislature has finally adjourned after one regular session, two special sessions and a partial third, all totaling 176 days. This has been the longest session in state history, and I'm relieved agreements were reached so lawmakers could return home.
The Legislature passed the 2015-17 operating budget with the highest margin of victory in 65 years. Here are some of the highlights:
- $1.3 billion investment in K-12 education, including class-size reductions and full-day kindergarten funding.
- Provides teachers overdue cost-of-living raises.
- Improves mental health treatment and capacity based on recent court mandates.
- Reduces college tuition at four-year and two-year institutions.
- Funds ECEAP expansion and other early learning and child care programs.
- And more!
It's important to note these investments will be made without any broad based tax increases. Original tax proposals included a capital gains income tax, carbon tax, and more, but with more than $3 billion in revenues coming in for this budget cycle, parties agreed major tax increases were obviously unnecessary.
The capital budget passed with strong bipartisan support and includes funding for several projects in the 5th District, such as the Snoqualmie Riverfront Project and the YMCA Camp Terry Environmental Recreation Center.
During triple overtime, the Legislature also passed a transportation revenue package. It includes a gas tax increase as well as car tab and license fee increases, and is paired with reforms meant to mitigate congestion and improve freight mobility. We still need to demand more accountability from WSDOT, but these reforms are a step in the right direction.
While it wasn't an easy decision, I ultimately voted in favor of the package. Bottom line: It addresses many of our state's critical infrastructure needs, and funds important projects in the 5th District and surrounding region. Here are some of those projects:
- I-90/SR 18 interchange;
- I-90/Front Street interchange modifications;
- Issaquah Fall City Road improvements;
- Corridor widening on I-405 between Renton and Lynnwood;
- and more.
We have some critical projects we need to get off the ground, and the projects above directly affect commuters and employers in our district, and the economy.
Stay connected this summer
Now that the Legislature has adjourned, please remember I am your representative year-round. Please don't hesitate to contact my office using the information below if you have questions or ideas to share. If you want to meet with me in district, or have me attend or speak at an event, contact my legislative assistant, Kate, at (360) 786-7852.
It's an honor serving you.