OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) released the statement below following the adjournment of the 2023 legislative session on Sunday evening:
“When we arrived in Olympia in January, there was urgency to act on the pressing challenges facing our communities. We prioritized legislation to boost support for behavioral health, provide a historic investment in affordable housing, increase funding for special education in public schools, expand access to childcare, improve public safety, and take action to combat our climate crisis.
“As we adjourn after 105 days, we have seen remarkable bipartisan progress on all these fronts. We invested more than $1 billion for housing and added nearly $3 billion for public schools, including a significant step forward on special education services for children in our state. We continued the implementation of the Fair Start Act, adding greater access to high-quality affordable childcare for Washington families. And, for the first time, funding from our nation-leading Climate Commitment Act will help reduce emissions and prepare our communities for droughts, flooding, and other climate impacts.
“We took key steps to reduce poverty and homelessness and invested more than $1 billion to strengthen our behavioral health system and provide more services for our most vulnerable community members. We took key steps to address our workforce needs, especially in the health care industry, and permanently capped the cost of insulin at $35 per month.
“I am also proud that Democrats stood firm for Washington state values and with the majority of Washingtonians, and passed significant legislation to reduce gun violence and protect access to reproductive health care.
“Obviously we are disappointed in the outcome of the Blake bill. I expected a bipartisan vote on this compromise bill. Instead, not one House Republican voted for a bill that would have made drug possession a gross misdemeanor throughout our state, as they’ve requested all session.
“Even still, we’ve taken major steps to help Washingtonians in crisis, address our state’s drug addiction challenges, and advance public safety. We have passed transformative policies and made key investments to address substance use disorder and behavioral health by helping people get the treatment they need and deserve.
“I am extremely proud of the entire breadth of this session’s work. I remain optimistic about our state’s future, and look forward to watching these new investments and policies continue to deliver for the people of Washington state.”