Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After several weeks of tense negotiations and hard decisions, the Legislature produced strongly supported bipartisan supplemental operating and capital budgets the final week in March. Although I am disappointed it took additional time, I believe these minor adjustments to the previously approved two-year plan will put us in a much better position as we head into 2017.
Because it is an election year, this will be the last legislative email update I am able to send out until late December. However, I can respond if you contact my office directly. Please remember, although we are a part-time Legislature I work for you year-round. If you have questions, comments or concerns about state government I encourage you to call or email me.
Overview of the 2016 supplemental operating and capital budgets
The 2016 supplemental operating and capital budgets, approved by the Legislature on March 29, adjust state spending by 0.5 percent in the context of a $38 billion budget. It makes minor changes for unexpected state expenditures not foreseen when the original budget was approved in 2015. I am pleased the plan approved by the Legislature respects one of the most important and fiscally responsible reforms in recent years – the four-year balanced budget requirement. However, I am concerned recent line item vetoes by the governor may put that in jeopardy.
This year's updated operating budget plan continues to make progress in education funding efforts, while still maintaining our historic tuition cuts at state colleges and universities – without raising taxes. One of the smaller items approved this session in total dollars, but an important investment, is $1.7 million in professional development for paraeducators who provide more than 50 percent of classroom instruction to special needs students.
The capital budget is often called the 'bricks and mortar budget.' It pays for infrastructure projects throughout the state. As the ranking member on the Capital Budget Committee I believe the final result (as approved by the Legislature) invests wisely. As I shared on a previous update, we were able prioritize state spending for:
- K-12 school construction
- Mental health facilities
- Affordable housing
- Recovery efforts related to the wildfires in 2015
Read more about the supplemental capital budget.
Local area capital construction funding approved
As your state legislator, one of the most important aspects of my job is to help local construction projects get through the legislative process. I am glad to see the approved projects funded for our district include:
- $200,000 – Chehalis Boys and Girls Club
- $250,000 – Historic Fox Theatre restoration in Centralia
- $500,000 – Scott Hill Park of Woodland
- $22,000 – Tenino Depot Museum roof
The 20th District is a great area to work and raise a family. Serving you is one of the best ways I know how to give back to this wonderful community. Thank you for allowing me to be a voice for you in Olympia.