Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature is now into the sixth day of its second special session. I'm disappointed majority parties were unable to agree on a final budget within the first special session, but remain hopeful negotiations will come to an end soon. Whether there is a need for tax increases has been the major point of contention so far between budget negotiators.
On May 18, our latest revenue forecast revealed the state will be receiving $405 million more in state tax collections for our current budget cycle. That brings our total to nearly $3.2 billion in additional revenue — an increase of 9.2 percent! This is great news and indicates our state is on a slow but steady economic recovery. With this major boost in revenue, we should be able to pass a two-year budget that funds necessary state programs, meets our K-12 education obligations, funds teacher and public employee COLAs, reduces tuition, and maintains our social safety net without raising taxes.
Some progress last week
Legislators were in Olympia last week and passed several pieces of legislation, including a school testing reform bill that maintains rigor in our schools and a bill that improves the timeliness of competency evaluations of the mentally ill. We also passed a $7.6 billion transportation budget. This budget covers maintenance and repair costs for deficient bridges, collective bargaining agreements for Washington State Patrol and state ferries, and more. This is NOT a transportation revenue package; the transportation budget uses funds that have already been raised.
House Democrats and Senate Republicans also released new budget proposals. The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the Senate budget last week, and the House Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on the House budget this week.
MSC Veterans Project groundbreaking
I was honored to speak at the groundbreaking event for the construction of the Multi-Service Center's veterans housing facility at 294th and Pacific Highway this week. So many of our veterans face poverty, financial difficulties and mental illness, and I'm pleased MSC has made a commitment to provide affordable housing and critical services for our military heroes. As of 2013, 43 percent of King County's veterans reside in South King County. This housing center will be a great service in our communities.
122F Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7898 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000