Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Shortly before midnight on Thursday, the Legislature adjourned “sine die.” When the gavels came down in the House and Senate, a group of legislators and staff gathered in the rotunda to sing “America the Beautiful.” It was a nice ending to a session that actually ended on time.
The 2014 legislative session was the quietest session in recent history. With the House in Democrat hands and the Senate in Republican coalition hands, the House spent much of its time killing Senate bills, and vice versa. Relatively few bills made it to the governor's desk. I believe this is better than the tendency of the Legislature to pass too many bills. It was the first time in my legislative service that the Legislature actually adjourned on time. Since I entered office in January 2011, the Legislature has had 11 sessions, including two 30-day special sessions following the 2013 regular session and the 3-day session for aerospace incentives last November.
There are two highlights to note from the final week of the session.
The first was the passage of a supplemental operating budget. While I opposed the initial House version of the budget, I was able to support the supplemental budget that passed both chambers on Thursday. The budget was balanced and responsible. It does not raise taxes and adds $58 million for K-12 education materials, supplies, and operating costs, continuing our education investment following the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision. It increases funding for the higher education Opportunity Scholarship for students in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. And it funds programs for mental health and people with developmental disabilities. While not perfect, this budget was a good bipartisan compromise among all four caucuses of the Legislature. I was glad to be able to support it.
The second highlight was the passage of Senate Bill 6552, which provides operational flexibility to school districts while increasing the graduation requirement to 24 credits. The bill removes the high school culminating project as a graduation requirement while giving districts the option to keep it as a requirement. It also increases access to math and science Career and Technical Education courses. This bill went through a lot of changes as it moved through the process, and it demonstrated the ability of legislators to arrive at a workable compromise.
The Legislature also passed a small supplemental transportation budget, while deciding not to spend additional dollars on capital construction and other capital requests. I was pleased the House supplemental capital budget, passed, which included $1 million for Brookville Gardens Community Park in Fife, and $400,000 for the Meeker Creek Restoration Project in Puyallup. Though this funding will not be available for now, I hope that the Legislature will act on these and other capital needs in 2015.
Finally, I hope you'll join me for one of two “Coffee Chats” on Saturday (tomorrow), March 15:
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
109 W Pioneer Ave.
12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.
9909 168th Ave. E, Suite 101,
These Coffee Chats are informal drop-in events, and I hope you're able to come by. I look forward to discussing issues like education funding, the state budget, transportation, and health care. If you have any questions about the Coffee Chats contact my office at (360)786-7968.
Sen. Bruce Dammeier's and I will also be holding a telephone town hall meeting on Tuesday, March 18. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will last one hour. You can join the community conversation by calling toll-free 1-800-761-6280. You will be able to ask questions and take part in instant polls. If you have any questions or comments before the event please call my office or Sen. Dammeier's at (360) 786-7648.
Please keep in touch.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000