Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are busy here in Olympia spending most of our time in committee, reviewing nearly 2,000 bills introduced so far. This week I was able to testify on one of my bills that would increase safety enforcement surrounding dangerous lead paint removal during home renovations. Our first major cutoff is one week from today. Bills that survive this first deadline will give us a better picture of what proposals actually have support to proceed this year. Please take a minute to learn about some of the other issues I’m focused on.
Amply funding public schools
My top priority this session is increasing funding for our public schools. We are starting to see vigorous debate on how the Legislature will meet the Supreme Court’s order to provide ample funding for schools – the main objective of our work in Olympia this year.
Senate Republicans finally released their education plan and, within four days, passed the 130-page bill off floor with little public input. Even though the plan makes drastic policy changes to how we run and fund public schools, they held no public hearing in the K-12 Education Committee. I spoke out against the Senate Republican plan on the floor (watch here). Here is why I joined all of my Democratic colleagues in voting against the proposal:
- Among other things, the plan would result in lower teaching standards, removing the state certification requirement for teachers. Some of our top teachers – those who have spent precious time and money earning additional National Board Certification – would lose their annual stipend under the Republican plan.
- Families in our districts would pay significantly more in property taxes and, in return, our schools would receive incredibly modest funding increases. In addition, the plan would severely constrain the amount of funds schools can raise through local levies.
House and Senate Democrats have released a plan that would lower class sizes, improve teacher compensation and increase the services offered to our students. More importantly, our plan recognizes the importance of local control and treats our teachers with respect and dignity. Please take a moment to watch the public testimony the plan received on Monday in the House Appropriations Committee.
Democrats remain focused on ‘levy cliff’
We remain focused on giving our school districts certainty as they begin to budget for the next school year. In order to prevent a $480 million shortfall created by the so-called “levy cliff,” the Legislature needs to act. We will continue to urge Senate Republicans to take this important vote. This should not be a partisan issue – the House of Representative already approved a fix with a bipartisan vote of 62-35. It’s time for Republicans to stop playing politics with our teachers and students.
Breakfast After the Bell
Our state ranks near the bottom when it comes to reaching low-income students with nutritious school breakfasts. I am hoping to change that with Senate Bill 5696. This legislation would give kids in high-needs schools food where and when it matters. By simply removing barriers like peer pressure or stigmas, we can improve a child’s chance at success.
‘Keep Washington Working Act’
Last week I was proud to introduce the Keep Washington Working Act (SB 5689) to keep Washington’s economy thriving, protect the state from over-reaching federal immigration policy changes, and recognize the important role of immigrants in the workplace.
We have the responsibility to stand up for Washington businesses and protect our economy. From Puget Sound tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft to our agricultural producers across the state, our economy depends on the energy and talent of immigrants.
Our state is on the right side of history when it comes to fighting reckless federal immigration policies and I am proud our attorney general and his staff are working so hard to defend our rights. Click here to read more about the bill.
Stay in touch!
Senator Lisa Wellman Lisa.Wellman@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7641