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Transportation budget focuses on ferries, traffic safety, green investments

Transportation budget focuses on ferries, traffic safety, green investments

OLYMPIA — On Tuesday, Senate Transportation Committee Chair Marko Liias unveiled the 2024 supplemental transportation budget, Senate Bill 5947, a $14.6 billion proposal which prioritizes public safety, preservation and maintenance of existing infrastructure and investments in the ferry system.  “Our transportation system is the lifeblood of our economy, and this year’s budget makes critical investments in ferries, traffic safety, and improving mobility statewide,” Liias (D-Edmonds) said.  The supplemental budget proposal puts $150 million additional dollars into the preservation of roads, bridges and more statewide. An additional $31 million is invested in ...

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Sen. Sam Hunt announces his retirement after nearly 24 years in the Legislature

Sen. Sam Hunt announces his retirement after nearly 24 years in the Legislature

OLYMPIA – Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) announced Tuesday he will retire after his term ends in January 2025. He has served as a state senator since 2017 and before that served as a state representative in the House from 2001-2016.   During Hunt’s tenure as chair of the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee and as chair of the Senate State Government and Elections Committee, Washington passed landmark election legislation. Universal vote-by-mail, the Washington Voting Rights Act, the Native American Voting Rights Act, online and election day voter registration, paid return postage for mailed ...

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Senate budget proposal emphasizes investments in behavioral health, public schools

Senate budget proposal emphasizes investments in behavioral health, public schools

OLYMPIA — Washington State Senate budget leaders unveiled a $71.7 billion supplemental operating budget plan Monday that increases support for behavioral health and public schools.  The budget adds roughly $1.9 billion in new spending to the two-year budget passed by lawmakers in April 2023.  “Many hours and conversations went into shaping our supplemental budget proposal, and I’m very proud of the result,” said Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. “It continues to showcase our values and priorities by making smart, targeted investments that give our neighbors and children the ...

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Sen. Billig, Speaker Jinkins: Three initiatives will have hearings, three will not

Sen. Billig, Speaker Jinkins: Three initiatives will have hearings, three will not

OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins announced Friday that public hearings will be held on Initiative 2113 (police pursuits), I-2111 (state income tax) and I-2081 (parental rights). The lawmakers also confirmed I-2117, a repeal of the Climate Commitment Act, I-2109, a repeal of the capital gains tax and I-2124, an opt-out of Washington’s long-term care retirement program that would effectively end the program, will not receive hearings or floor action, and will go directly to the November ballot. The House and Senate will hold ...

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Senate Leaders Introduce Capital Budget Proposal

Senate Leaders Introduce Capital Budget Proposal

Senate leaders from the Democratic and Republican caucuses today announced their 2024 capital budget proposal. The state’s capital budget funds construction and maintenance of infrastructure and physical projects. This year’s budget proposal includes major funding increases in K-12 school construction, behavioral health facilities, affordable housing, and more. Details and specific project lists for the $1.3 billion budget proposal are online here. “This might only be a supplemental budget year, but this proposal steps up to the scale of the challenges facing Washington. On all the key issues before us, I think this budget will do a lot of ...

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Retirement savings bill from Sen. Mullet passes Senate

Retirement savings bill from Sen. Mullet passes Senate

Legislation to address Washington’s retirement savings crisis passed the Senate today on a 43-6 vote. Known as Washington Saves, SB 6069, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) and requested by State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti, would create an automatic Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for Washingtonians without access to employer-based retirement systems and help them invest and save those funds. “This bill is a great way to help folks save for retirement, especially people who work lower-income jobs or for very small businesses,” said Mullet. “Having IRAs automatically set up for employees is good for everyone – it gives ...

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Carbon market linkage bill passes Senate

Carbon market linkage bill passes Senate

Legislation to support efforts linking Washington’s cap-and-invest carbon market to those of California and Quebec passed the Washington State Senate Monday. Senate Bill 6058, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyễn (D-White Center), makes numerous technical changes to carbon markets to help align Washington’s market with those of California and Quebec, and is an important step forward for the cap-and-invest program created by 2021’s Climate Commitment Act. Linking markets with California and Quebec is expected to have major benefits for Washington’s carbon market. With a larger and more stable market, it’s expected that allowance prices would be significantly lower than ...

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Sen. Billig: Initiative’s $5 billion cut would "devastate" early learning, childcare, K-12 in Washington

Sen. Billig: Initiative’s $5 billion cut would "devastate" early learning, childcare, K-12 in Washington

A Department of Revenue analysis of Initiative 2109 found that its passage would result in the loss of more than $5.6 billion in funding for early learning, childcare and K-12 education programs across Washington by 2029. Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig issued the statement below in response: “That figure is even worse than we thought. The initiative would reduce K-12 funding and devastate early learning and childcare programs relied on by families across Washington. “For many parents, these programs are essential in order for them to have a family and a career. For businesses, these programs are essential ...

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Senate passes Nobles bill to create more affordable homeownership opportunities

Senate passes Nobles bill to create more affordable homeownership opportunities

OLYMPIA — A bill to create more affordable homeownership opportunities passed the Senate on a 48-1 vote Friday.  Senate Bill 6173, sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest), aims to expand the production of affordable housing by enabling local municipalities to support organizations in creating homeownership opportunities for households earning up to 80% of area median income.  It also seeks to address the significant gap between median incomes and home prices in areas where homeownership is largely unattainable for those earning less than the median income, particularly among communities of ...

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Senate passes Nobles bill aligning eligibility time frames across state, federal financial aid programs

Senate passes Nobles bill aligning eligibility time frames across state, federal financial aid programs

OLYMPIA — Legislation to allow students to receive state financial aid for the same amount of time they can receive federal aid passed the Senate on a 34-14 vote Friday.  Senate Bill 5904, sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest), would align the maximum eligibility time frames for the Washington College Grant, College Bound Scholarship, and Passport to Careers programs with that of the federal Pell Grant at 150% — the equivalent of 18 full-time academic quarters.   More than 6,800 Washington students in the 2023–24 academic year are on track to complete their ...

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