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

Monthly Archives: January 2016

E News- Focusing on students

January 27th, 2016|

Education funding update

We are now in the third week of this eight-week legislative session and education funding and educational opportunity are the most pressing issues facing the Legislature.

I was pleased to serve on the governor’s bipartisan education funding work group over the past few months. Our group formulated legislation that lays out the next steps required to address full funding of basic education and satisfy the Supreme Court’s contempt ruling for the state’s failure to fully fund basic education. The House passed the companion bill yesterday with a strong bipartisan vote and hopefully the Senate will act soon.

Charter schools

Charter schools, which the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional, is another educational issue on our plate. I have worked this session to find a solution that provides educational certainty for the children currently enrolled in charter schools and ensures that local school boards play a role in authorizing any new charter schools in their community.

Last week, the Senate Republicans passed charter school legislation that is too extreme and likely unconstitutional. Instead, we need to move to the middle ground on this issue. A separate bipartisan bill that I sponsored would have eliminated the state charter school commission and allowed only local school districts to create new charter schools, which addresses a key concern in the court’s ruling.

I am dedicated to finding a solution that provides certainty and opportunity for charter school students and our more than one million public school students.

The Washington Promise program

I am excited to be co-sponsoring legislation this session that would provide two years of free tuition at community and technical colleges for all eligible Washington residents. The bill, known as the Washington Promise program, would effectively give every student, regardless of their economic background, the chance to access higher education.

Nominate a notable citizen of Spokane

Do you know a citizen in Spokane who has made a difference as a volunteer in our community? Spokane’s Citizen Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for individual volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to the quality of life and development of the City of Spokane.

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Nominations are due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9. If you are interested in nominating someone, click here for more information.

Keeping in Touch

If you have a comment, idea or question, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

You can reach me by email andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at 360-786-7604.

Due to election-year restrictions, we had to restart our e-newsletter distribution list. If you or someone you know would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, forward them this email and tell them to click here to sign up.

Onward!

Andy

 

Billig: Lawmakers should put students ahead of politics

January 20th, 2016|

OLYMPIA Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, issued this statement today following the defeat of an amendment to charter school legislation that would eliminate the state charter school commission and permit local school districts to authorize the creation of new charter schools. The amendment would have permitted all nine charter schools that were created by I-1240 to remain open.

“This amendment was about finding a middle ground so that we could provide certainty and stability for the children who attend charter schools.

“Had the amendment been adopted, we would have put local districts and local communities in control while also providing educational certainty for the children currently enrolled in charter schools.

“Unfortunately, because this amendment was not adopted, I fear that this bill will not be able pass the Legislature, be signed into law or withstand a court challenge, which will likely result in these kids being uprooted from the schools of their choice.

“By refusing to compromise and sticking with the more extreme, and likely unconstitutional version of the bill, I have serious concerns that the Republican majority in the Senate is choosing to make this a political issue at the expense of the students. These kids and their families are desperate for a solution that provides them educational stability; the students should be our priority, not political partisanship.

“Despite this setback, I will continue to work to find a way this session to help these charter school students and our more than 1 million public school students find a way to access a world class education that meets their learning needs.”

E News- Opening Day

January 14th, 2016|

Opening Day

Monday was opening day for the Washington State Legislature.

Although this is a 60-day “short session,” there is a lot to be accomplished. Our first priority for this year is to create a plan for fully funding basic education. We will also be working to increase campaign finance transparency, improve access to voting, and strengthen mental health services, as well as other issues important to Spokane.

Please keep in touch throughout the legislative session. I welcome your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in our state.

New Additions to Team Billig

We are lucky to have the best staff in Olympia working on your behalf. Kate Burke, my legislative assistant, continues to lead our team. She will be joined this session by two new staff members.

Our session aide for this year will be Erin Magee. Erin graduated from Gonzaga University in 2015 and is excited to be working for the Spokane community. Erin studied political science and philosophy and attended a fair share of Gonzaga basketball games.

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Our intern this session will be Reed Simock. Reed was born and raised in Spokane Valley. He is a junior at Washington State University, where he studies political science and history. When Reed graduates, he hopes to work in state government.

Keeping in Touch

If you have a comment, idea or question, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

You can reach me by email andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at 360-786-7604.

Due to election-year restrictions, we had to restart our e-newsletter distribution list. If you or someone you know would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, forward them this email and tell them to click here to sign up.

Onward!

Andy

 

Billig unveils charter schools proposal

January 6th, 2016|

OLYMPIA – Charter schools would be accountable to locally elected school boards, making them constitutional and able to continue to receive funding under bipartisan legislation introduced today by Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane.

“At this point, it’s no longer about how you voted on the charter school initiative,” said Billig. “The fact is we have real kids in charter classrooms who deserve certainty about their education. We should find a way to provide stable funding for these schools and ensure they are complimentary and accountable to the rest of the local public school system, which benefits the children in the charter schools as well as the entire community.”

Billig’s bill creates “District Charter Schools” within the local school district, which not only complies with the Supreme Court decision because they will be under the control of the locally elected school board, but also means funding will be stable and reliable since these schools will be well within the definition of basic education. This bill creates a charter option for local school districts but a district would not be required to create a district charter school.

Charter schools were approved by voters in 2012. This past September, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that charter schools were operated in ways that violated the state’s constitution and could no longer receive public funding.

“This bill could work in concert with other charter policies or stand on its own as the charter school solution,” added Billig. “Either way, it can be utilized to help current charter schools continue as well as create increased options for school districts seeking more varied choices for students and families in their community.”

As a result of this legislation, district charter schools created by local school districts may be afforded independent elements similar to traditional charter schools such as formulating curriculum, freedom from some district policies, management of portions of the schools’ budgets, and the ability to manage the school’s staff more independently.