Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is the sixth week of the legislative session. The cutoff date to pass bills out of their respective policy committees is this Friday. The cutoff for the fiscal committees is next week, Feb. 27. Of course bills “necessary to implement the budget,” sometimes referred to as “NTIB” bills, are exempt from cutoff dates. For more on legislative cutoffs click here.
I am continuing work I started last year on innovative social policies. Core to my vision as a legislator is the belief that we need to build up our communities, not our bureaucracies. That means empowering families, free markets, faith-based and voluntary organizations to solve problems we have often entrusted to government to manage. It means engaging the private sector in helping to solve big public problems like poverty. It also means using existing public funds to leverage community relationships in a way that truly advances the good of our neighbors in need.
House Bill 1633 is similar to a bill I introduced last year that would add a new preference to the state’s housing fund to benefit projects featuring collaborative partnerships between local school districts and public housing authorities. This is inspired by a successful partnership at McCarver Elementary School between the Tacoma School District and the Tacoma Housing Authority to get low-income parents more involved in their children’s education. A few years ago, turnover among students at McCarver was 179 percent as low-income families moved from place to place. The Housing Authority began requiring parents of McCarver students who reside in qualifying housing to make a pledge: get involved in your child’s education, improve your own career and education, and keep your child at McCarver for a sustained time. Today, student turnover has decreased dramatically and math and reading scores are up.
Parental involvement is indispensable when it comes to student achievement, and we need policies that encourage parents to keep their kids in one school and give them a stable context for success in the classroom. House Bill 1633 would effectively make use of existing housing dollars to promote relationships between low-income parents and their kids’ teachers and principals. It was recently voted out of the House Capital Budget Committee and could come before the full House of Representatives for a vote in the next few weeks.
Another bill that builds on previous work is House Bill 1501 that would provide a structure for the use of Pay for Success contracts in Washington State. Pay for Success allows a private investor to fund an evidence-based human services program, typically to prevent a costly outcome such as homelessness, prisoner recidivism, emergency room use, or public health epidemics. The investor can receive a return as a percentage of savings, but only once the savings are clearly demonstrated by a third-party evaluator. HB 1501 was passed by the Early Learning and Human Services Committee on Friday. I have been an advocate for Pay for Success because it changes the incentive model: in areas where government has failed to work, let’s allow the private sector to invest in approaches that can actually solve a problem and save taxpayers money.
I hope you’ll keep in touch as the session continues. Call me with any ideas or questions that you have.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000