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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After a regular session, two 30-day special sessions, and part of a third special session, the Legislature is going home for the year.
With the end of the fiscal year looming, the Legislature finally passed an operating budget on June 29. I supported the spending plan as it is a historic budget on many levels. The budget:
- Invests about $1.3 billion in K-12 education, the state's largest education budget in history;
- reduces class sizes in grades K-3;
- provides a cost-of-living raise for teachers;
- reduces the cost of tuition at the state's four-year colleges and universities and two-year community colleges, a huge win for students and middle-class families;
- makes significant investments in treatment and capacity for our mentally ill and preserves our health and human service safety net;
- Increases funding for state parks; and
- accomplishes these things with NO major taxes increases – capital gains, carbon, cap and trade and most B&O tax proposals were taken off the table.
The budget vote was 90-8 in the House and 38-10 in the Senate. It was the strongest budget vote in the House in about 26 years.
The Legislature also passed a strong, bipartisan capital budget. This construction package provides infrastructure for K-12 education, higher education, correction facilities and maintenance and repair where it is needed most, while also addressing stewardship projects protecting our farmlands, environment and water. Projects in or near the 25th District with capital budget funding include Brookdale Gardens Park in Fife, upgrades to the Puyallup Fish Hatchery, a key linkage on the Foothills Trail, an Early Learning Center in the Franklin Pierce School District, Low-Impact Development improvements near the WSU Research Center in Puyallup, and Stan and Joan Cross Park in Frederickson.
After years of hard work and compromise, the Legislature passed a $16 billion transportation package. We can now look forward to the completion of Highway 167 from north of the Puyallup River to the Port of Tacoma. This plan will address congestion relief, invest in freight mobility and maintain the competitiveness of our ports. It improves our transportation infrastructure around the state. The package includes major improvements to I-5 through Joint Base Lewis-McChord and improves the Port of Tacoma Road interchange on I-5 in Fife. It also includes significant reforms so our transportation department and system will function more efficiently and effectively. Because of these reforms, taxpayers will be protected from an expensive low-carbon fuel standard and future sales taxes on road projects will not be diverted to the state's general fund.
One of the reforms included was my House Bill 1219, to expedite replacement of aging bridges. The governor signed this bill into law earlier this week. I introduced this legislation because I was concerned with the condition of the old Meridian Street Puyallup Bridge. I am happy the new bridge is open, but the structurally deficient 1925 bridge should have been replaced years ago. This law will allow the state to bypass standard processes of permitting and contracting to ensure crews can get to work quickly to repair or replace structurally deficient bridges. This reform will save time and money for taxpayers and drivers.
Now that the legislative session is over, I hope you'll keep in touch. Now is a good time to bring me your ideas for future legislation or to sit down over coffee so I can learn about challenges facing your family, neighborhood, or workplace. Contact my legislative assistant Sarah Pollock at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-840-4526 to set up a time to meet.
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