After 20 days of overtime, the Legislature has finally adjourned. There were some hard-fought battles this year, many successes and a handful of failures. While I think the Legislature could have and should have wrapped up their work for 2016 on time, I'm proud of the accomplishments that were made.
This session, lawmakers:
- Saved public charter schools;
- Helped address the state's teacher shortage;
- Gave pay raises to Washington State Patrol troopers;
- Established the Washington Cybercrime Act; and
- much more!
On March 10, the day lawmakers adjourned regular session, Gov. Inslee made good on his threat to veto bills in order to spur budget negotiations. He vetoed 27 of 37 bills, most of which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers. His decision to veto these particular bills was surprising as these measures sought to help individuals with disabilities who are pursuing higher education, authorize the growing of industrial hemp, and promote economic development. His attempt at nudging negotiations along didn't end up working, and it actually delayed lawmakers adjourning earlier as both chambers had to override his 27 vetoes.
That same day we voted to override those vetoes, we passed supplemental operating and capital budgets. These budgets aren't perfect, and while I would have liked to see more investments in our own 35th District, these budgets stuck to the true spirit of a supplemental year by only making small, midcourse adjustments to the two-year spending plan. Here are some of the budget highlights:
- $190 million emergency funding out of the Budget Stabilization Account (rainy day fund) for wildfire recovery from last summer's wildfires.
- $4.2 million to keep charter schools open.
- $40 million for court-mandated mental-health system improvements.
- $4.3 million for health home services.
- $8 million to backfill costs to keep tuition reduced at state colleges and universities.
- And more!
Additionally, $206,000 was provided in the capital budget, or the “bricks and mortar budget,” for a veterans' shelter in Mason County. The monies will be used to renovate the existing properties in order to provide transitional housing for veterans in cooperation with Mason County's specialty veterans' court.
Sen. Tim Sheldon, Rep. Drew MacEwen and I sent a joint press release regarding passage of the two budgets, which you can read here.
Even though session has ended, I am your state representative year round. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas for legislation, I encourage you to contact my office. My legislative assistant, Amber, stands ready to answer your questions and set up a time for us to meet.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you!