We are approaching the last week of regular session, which is scheduled to adjourn on April 26. I hope we can finish by then, and we should be able to, but unfortunately there is a possibility we may have to go into special session to resolve differences on the state budget. I will keep you updated as events progress.
A quick note before we discuss the budget
Last week I missed several days' worth of votes. A very serious family emergency called me away from Olympia. My loved one is now much improved, for which I am truly grateful, and none of the votes I missed were ones where my vote would have changed the outcome. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues during a difficult time, and thank you for your understanding.
Since my last update the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has released its budget proposal. It uses only current tax revenues (you may recall that the state will take in $3 billon more than it had in the last budget cycle) while still providing the necessary funds for K-12 education.
Another aspect of the Senate budget I find particularly praiseworthy is an average 25 percent cut in tuition at public colleges and universities. The cost of higher education has gone out of reach for too many individuals, denying them a chance to improve their lives and achieve their dreams.
Budget leaders in the Legislature have sat down for some negotiations, including one with Gov. Inslee. Progress appears to be slow, with the governor and the majority party in the House wanting taxes, and the Senate and members of my own caucus preferring to try to make do with the tax dollars the state already has.
Additionally, the majority party in the House has not yet voted on the $1.5 billion in tax increases that would be needed to balance their budget.
It is very important, especially with so many people still hurting from the Great Recession, that we live within our means and go the extra mile to be good stewards of your tax dollars.
With so much personal information so vulnerable to data breaches and/or hacking, the Legislature has begun to address the many ways we can protect people's data. My bill prohibits utilities from selling or sharing data about their customers' energy use without a customer's written or electronic permission.
That's all for this week. Please don't hesitate to contact my office should you have any questions, comments, concerns or ideas about state government. I am happy to help you, and it is an honor to serve you.