(360) 786-7604|Andy.Billig@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Balancing the state budget – Sen. Billig’s March 25th Session Update

March 25th, 2013|

Current general fund budget

Do it yourself: Balance the state budget
The remainder of the legislative session will be dominated by the state’s operating budget. Budget proposals from the Senate and House are expected over the next two weeks. The budget proposals usually follow the March revenue forecast, which was released last Wednesday.

This latest revenue forecast was consistent with previous forecasts and we continue to face an approximate $1.3 billion projected shortfall at the end of the next two year budget cycle if we were to make no changes to current law. However, our state always has a balanced budget so we will make decisions over the next month that will bring the budget into balance.

In addition to making up for the projected shortfall, the legislature also needs to invest an additional $1.4 billion in K-12 education to meet our constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education.

The Seattle Times has posted an interactive budget feature on their website that lets you consider the decisions that face the Legislature. It offers a list of possible cuts and new revenue sources, allowing you to mix and match your way to a balanced budget.

This widget helps illustrate the size of the budget challenge and the difficult choices we are facing. Please give it a try, and then let me know the choices you make. What do you think the right course for balancing the state budget? Would you reduce services even if it ends up costing the state more money in the long run? What investments in our community would you enhance? Are you willing to increase revenue to make those critical investments? There is a lot at stake as we make these budget decisions and it will take everybody to be part of the solution so I look forward to your responses.

Keeping In Touch
Please keep in touch with questions or comments at anytime. If you have feedback, I’d like to hear from you. You can reach me in Olympia by e-mail (andy.billig@leg.wa.gov) or by phone at 360-786-7604.
And if you know someone who would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website at http://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter” – I’ll be glad to keep them in the loop!

AUDIO: Senate approves Billig consumer safety bill

March 19th, 2013|

If products containing a cancer causing material are going to be sold in Washington, consumers need to know. A bill from the Washington State Senate would accomplish that. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

March 18th Session Update: “I’m just a bill”

March 18th, 2013|

 

Town Hall Meetings


Thank you to the more than 200 people who attended our 3rd Legislative District Town Halls on Saturday. Rep. Ormsby, Rep. Riccelli and I received comments and questions on a range of topics. I appreciated all of the thoughtful input from everyone that attended.

Whether you were able to make it to a Town Hall meeting or not, I encourage you to stay in touch as we move through the rest of the Legislative session.

 

3rd LD Town Hall photos

Bill Update: Consumer protection legislation passes Senate

Do you remember from Schoolhouse Rock the first step in how a bill becomes a law? It starts with a constituent saying, "There ought to be a law." Just prior to the house of origin cut-off last Wednesday, the Senate passed SB 5458, which requires that any asbestos-containing building material must feature a label that clearly identifies it as containing asbestos.

This legislation started when I received an e-mail from Bill, a concerned constituent who works for the Spokane Clean Air Agency. He said, “There ought to be a law,” and now we’re well on our way to making that idea a reality! It is always nice to see such clear examples of direct constituent input leading to productive legislation, especially legislation that will help increase consumer safety and transparency. SB 5458 passed by a vote of 47-2 and will next head to the House Of Representatives for consideration.

Education Legislative Panel

Last Sunday I was glad to have the opportunity to serve on two legislative panels in front of almost 500 school directors and superintendents from around the state at the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) Annual Conference. I shared with the attendees my thoughts on the education bills being considered this session and the need to fully fund basic education.

When you look at student performance for Washington compared to other states, we are generally in the top 1/3 in most categories, yet we are in the bottom 1/3 compared to other states in per pupil funding. Those rankings indicate to me that we are getting a good value for our educational dollar. But, we can and should do better. We have passed a number of significant reforms in recent years, including all-day kindergarten, small class size for K-3 grades, and the Teacher Principal Evaluation Program, but we have not properly funded them. The next big education reform for Washington State is fulfilling our moral and constitutional obligation to fund the reforms already on the books and provide a high quality education for every student in our public school system.

It was great to see many of our local school districts represented, including school directors and superintendents from Spokane Public Schools, Mead, East Valley and Central Valley. Thanks again to WSSDA for inviting me to participate.

Keeping In Touch

Please keep in touch with questions or comments at anytime. If you have feedback, I’d like to hear from you. You can reach me in Olympia by e-mail (andy.billig@leg.wa.gov) or by phone at 360-786-7604.

And if you know someone who would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website at http://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter” – I’ll be glad to keep them in the loop!

Sen. Billig March 11th Session Update: Town Hall Edition

March 12th, 2013|

 

 

3rd District Delegation to hold town hall meetings March 16th

With the legislative session halfway over, my seatmates (Rep. Marcus Riccelli & Rep. Timm Ormsby) and I will be holding two town hall meetings to hear from constituents and answer questions on Saturday, March 16th. Topics will include education, transportation, job creation, the state budget and anything else you want to talk about.

March 16, 10 AM – 11:30am
Shadle Park High School Auditorium
4327 N Ash St, Spokane
Northwest Neighborhood
 

March 16, 2 PM – 3:30pm
Emmanuel Family Life Center
631 S. Richard Allen Ct, Spokane
South Perry Neighborhood

We do our job of representing our community best when we hear directly from you. I encourage everyone to attend on of these town hall meeting.

 

ormsby-riccelli-billig-3rd-district-townhall-postca_original

TVW Capitol Classroom

 

Sen. Billig on TVW's Capitol Classroom

Last week I participated in a program through TVW called Capitol Classroom. Students from Evergreen High School decided to support and follow SB 5389, a bill I prime sponsored that would guarantee sibling visitation rights for children in the foster care system.

The Capital Classroom program does an excellent job of engaging youth in civics, which is essential to the future of our democracy and makes excellent use of technology as part of that process. The students select a bill to follow and then support the legislation through a volunteer lobbyist, conversations with legislators, and visits to the Legislature to advocate for the bill in person. You can watch the segment HERE.
Next session, I am hoping we can get a school from Spokane to participate in the Capitol Classroom! If you know of a high school teacher that might be interested, please have them contact our office and we can get them in touch with TVW.

Budget Update

 

This Wednesday is the last day to consider policy bills in their house of origin. Next, we’ll focus more directly on the operating and transportation budgets.

The operating budget work typically does not pick up its intensity until the March revenue forecast since that is the revenue amount we will use when balancing the budget. Washington State is unique in this approach to revenue forecasting. The revenue forecast is nonpartisan and is used by both the executive and legislative branches in budget preparation. This year the revenue forecast is on March 20th and we’ll probably see the public roll out of budget proposals in the week or two afterwards.

 

Keeping In Touch


Please keep in touch with questions or comments at anytime. If you have feedback, I’d like to hear from you. You can reach me in Olympia by e-mail (andy.billig@leg.wa.gov) or by phone at 360-786-7604.
And if you know someone who would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website at http://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter” – I’ll be glad to keep them in the loop!