Greetings from Olympia!

We are finishing up the third week of the 2017 legislative session here in Olympia and I wanted to take a moment to provide a brief update. I have been busy settling into my new office and taking on my roles on two committees – the Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee and the Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee.

I was also honored to be elected by my colleagues to serve as vice caucus chair this session. In that role, I will help foster the vision and values of Senate Democrats as we navigate the 105-day session.

I was sworn in during Opening Ceremonies in the Washington State Senate on Jan. 9.

‘Levy Cliff’ bill

The most pressing concern for our public schools is a $356 million shortfall facing the districts across the state next school year. The shortfall is created by the so-called “levy cliff,” which is an artificial limitation in state law on local districts’ ability to collect money that has been approved by district voters. Mercer Island will lose about $1.8 million next year if the Legislature doesn’t act.

My bill (SB 5023) has yet to receive a hearing in the Senate, but the good news is the House of Representative passed the companion bill with a bipartisan vote of 62-35. Now we are waiting on Senate Republicans to act quickly on passing this legislation so schools around the state aren’t forced to cut programs, lay off teachers and increase class size.

We should not be playing politics with school districts, superintendents, parents and teachers and, most importantly our (and their) children.

A sustainable education funding solution

While Democrats released a plan to address education funding before the session started, Senate Republicans finally offered a bill over the weekend. Now we can start finding compromise and deliver a solution that will reduce class sizes, increase teacher salaries, and give us the ability to build or renovate schools.

We are still digging into the details of the Republican bill, but we are very concerned that their proposal picks winners and losers. Many school districts in the Puget Sound region — including Mercer Island — would pay more in taxes and receive fewer educational services. I’ll share more details on both plans in the coming days.

Stay in touch

Thank you for the privilege of representing you here in Olympia. Please reach out to me via email, phone and en-gage on social media including Facebook and Twitter. I am here to listen and be your voice in Olympia.



Senator Lisa Wellman
41st Legislative District
(360) 786-7641