We completed the 2014 legislative session last evening in Olympia, with an official “Sine Die” ceremony at nearly midnight. I'm so happy to be heading back home to our wonderful communities in the beautiful 10th District!
Town hall meetings March 20 and 22
I invite you to join me and my seatmates Rep. Dave Hayes and Sen. Barbara Bailey for town hall meetings throughout the 10th District on Thursday, March 20, and Saturday, March 22. We would so enjoy meeting with you and answering your questions.
Here are the details:
THURSDAY, MARCH 20
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
South Whidbey High School, New Commons
5675 Maxwelton Rd
SATURDAY, MARCH 22
9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Stanwood Middle School, Cafeteria
9405 271st St NW
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Mount Baker Middle School, Cascade Commons
2310 E. Section St.
4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Oak Harbor High School, Library
1 Wildcat Way
Budget: Sustainable, responsible spending
On Thursday the Legislature approved the 2014 supplemental operating budget. It is called “supplemental” because it makes only minor changes to the larger budget we passed last year.
Because Washington's economy is slowly improving, more tax revenues have been coming into the state. As a consequence, we were able to direct $155 million to areas in the budget that could benefit from more funding.
Priority for new funding was given to K-12 education ($64 million) and higher education ($35 million). We also set aside $26 million for long-term care, mental health and care for people with developmental disabilities. The rest of the revenues went to criminal justice and corrections, other human services, general government activities and ongoing state operations.
Although there were some disappointments – such as lack of support for the Life Sciences Discovery Fund – overall I believe this is a solid budget that is responsible with your tax dollars. We did not raise taxes and we left enough in the ending balance to help protect us against emergencies.
Stronger 'STEM' instruction for students
In today's competitive economy it is crucial that students are given the best possible instruction so they can succeed in the workforce. The Legislature responded to this challenge by approving a bill that strengthens high school graduation requirements.
The final version of this legislation raises expectation for a meaningful high school diploma, while creating the needed flexibility for our local districts. It emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in grades 9 through 12. The goal is that by the time a student graduates from high school, he or she has more of the kinds of skills that match what employers are looking for. This will be beneficial to all high school graduates, including those who go on to Community and Technical colleges and later seek jobs in the production and manufacturing sector.
By improving STEM instruction, I believe we are giving students greater hope and opportunity for good-paying jobs and a brighter future. I was happy to support this bill.
Watch my latest video update
In this video update I discuss the supplemental transportation budget, which includes provisions for a new 144-car ferry, passage of several bills I've worked on, and my disappointment that the Legislature wasn't able to agree on a capital budget. Please click below to watch:
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this update. As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Legislature. Please don't hesitate to contact my office with any questions, comments or ideas you may have, or if you need assistance.