With a month left before the 2017 legislative session begins, lawmakers are gearing up for their return to Olympia. At the beginning of the month, representatives traveled to Olympia for pre-session committee meetings for what is known as “committee assembly week” to discuss various issues that will be before the Legislature in 2017.
Paramount among those issues will be our continued efforts to address K-12 education funding as it relates to the McCleary education funding case. At the time of the original ruling in 2012, the state Supreme Court ordered the state to implement certain education reforms and fully fund basic education by 2018 – that deadline is quickly approaching. We've made a lot of progress that has resulted in a 36 percent increase in K-12 education funding over the past three biennia, but there's still more work to do.
With the new year there will also be a new budget cycle, so lawmakers will be creating a new, two-year budget come 2017. According to the latest state revenue forecast, we have a 6.7 percent increase in available revenues this coming biennium compared to last biennium.
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AWB's 28th Annual Holiday Kids' Tree Project
Dec. 2 marked the annual Association of Washington Business (AWB) Holiday Kids' Tree Project tree-lighting ceremony at the state Capitol Rotunda. The project first started in 1989 and since then, AWB has raised more than $395,000 for children and families in rural communities statewide, including in Mason and Thurston counties. During the ceremony, money and gifts are presented to rural fire departments, which use the funds to buy food and gifts for families in their communities. This year, Naval Base Kitsap Chief Petty Officer Maungwai Soe, his wife Yamin, and their two children, Heidi and Hunter, joined the governor in lighting the tree.
The tree comes down Dec. 30, so there's still time to visit! More details here.
This year, Weyerhaeuser's Vail-area tree farm donated the tree. The Noble fir stands at 30-feet and is decorated with 5,000 LED lights and characters representing an Under the Sea theme.
During this holiday season, I hope you're able to spend time with friends and family. I also want to encourage you to stay in touch! Please don't hesitate to contact my office with any questions, bill ideas or concerns. The 2017 legislative session will begin Jan. 9.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you.
Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!