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

Monthly Archives: July 2017

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    Billig: Senate Republicans block construction budget, millions of dollars for Spokane are at stake

Billig: Senate Republicans block construction budget, millions of dollars for Spokane are at stake

July 24th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, issued this statement today at the conclusion of the Legislature’s third special session and in response to the Senate Republicans’ refusal to allow a vote on the capital construction budget.

“This has been an unfortunate ending to an otherwise productive legislative session that included historic investments in K-12 education and early learning.

“There was full agreement on the capital budget and it was certain to pass the Senate with a near unanimous majority. The House passed it near unanimously on June 30. All that was needed, was for the Senate Republican leadership to allow a floor vote.

“I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans have decided to block this year’s capital budget because of an unrelated water rights issue. That water rights bill is also important but it should not be artificially connected to the capital budget.

“In addition, there have been numerous opportunities to reach a compromise on the water issue, yet Senate Republicans have insisted on taking a ‘my way or the highway’ approach.

“This brinksmanship by the Senate Republicans has serious consequences. The capital budget would have created more than 19,000 construction jobs, funneled more than $1 billion into public school construction to lower class sizes, and invested $800 million in our public universities and colleges.

“In the Spokane area alone, millions of dollars in investments will be lost for projects and improvements important to our community including:

  • Spokane Family Justice Center at the YWCA.
  • East Central Community Center dental clinic.
  • Renovations to Spokane Community College’s main building.
  • Honor Point Aerospace Museum.
  • Peaceful Valley Spokane River boat access.
  • Emmanuel Family Life Center improvements.
  • EWU Interdisciplinary Science building

“In the end, people – especially vulnerable people – are the ones who are going to suffer the most. Money in this budget was dedicated to tackle the homeless crisis, get kids off the streets, and improve our state’s mental health programs.

“Even though the legislative session officially concludes today, I encourage my colleagues across the aisle to recognize that these projects are too important to our state to be innocent victims of the Senate GOP’s political gamesmanship.

“We have a viable compromise solution to the water rights issue and an agreed upon capital budget that drives our economy and supports our most vulnerable. We can and should pass both by the end of the year.”

E News- Education plan passes Senate, finally!

July 1st, 2017|

I am pleased to report that we have passed a K-12 education plan that funds our schools and delivers for Washington’s 1.1 million schoolchildren. It does so by supporting important programs aimed at closing the opportunity gap, increasing salaries and salary equity for educators so we can attract and retain the best possible teachers, and maintains local control. I was glad to serve as one of the eight negotiators who helped craft this proposal.

We also passed an operating budget tonight that closely reflects Spokane’s values. It invests in health care, increases access to high quality pre-school, and improves access to college for kids from low-income households. Additionally, it does all this without requiring cuts to our state’s safety net.

Here are a few Spokane budget highlights:

– Funding for medical education in Spokane

– Support for the Spokane River Toxics Task Force

– Significant investments for Spokane Public Schools

– Increased funding for Eastern State Hospital

This was a compromise budget, and a compromise inevitably includes parts you do not agree with. The $7.3 billion dollar investment in our schools is primarily funded by a statewide property tax. I advocated for funding sources that would have better addressed Washington’s regressive tax code.

The negotiation process was intense but I am confident that we have produced a K-12 education plan that will help every child in the state achieve their fullest potential.

For those that are interested in more detail, here are summary documents and the actual bill language for both the K-12 plan as well as the operating budget: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2017/ho1719p.asp

Keep in Touch

I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in Spokane and across our state. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have a comment, idea or question.

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

Onward!

Andy

  • Permalink Gallery

    Spokane lawmakers secure $15 million for regional medical education

Spokane lawmakers secure $15 million for regional medical education

July 1st, 2017|

OLYMPIA – The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University and the WWAMI Regional Medical Education program will receive a total of $15 million in state funding following the passage of the state’s operating budget that is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee late tonight.

“In Eastern Washington and throughout the state, we are facing a shortage of primary care doctors,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “It is critical we fund our region’s medical education institutions so we can ensure that families in rural, underserved areas have the same access to quality care as their urban neighbors.”

WSU’s medical school will admit an inaugural class of 60 first-year medical students starting August 2017 with the goal of producing more primary care physicians for rural and underserved areas in the state. Students will serve in clinics in the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Everett and Spokane following their first two years of instruction and the inaugural class will be made up entirely of Washington state residents.

“This is a big win for Eastern Washington,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. “Not only does this keep talented young doctors in Washington, it will be a big economic driver, expanding our economy with increased care and medical research dollars.”

The $10 million secured for WSU’s medical expansion will support the 60 first-year and second-year students.

“This is another important step to getting people access to healthcare for themselves and their families regardless of where in the state they live,” said Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D- Spokane. “I am proud to have worked so hard with the late Dr. Floyd and his team, and Sens. Baumgartner and Billig to pass the policy bill that paved the way for a WSU medical school. I’m also proud of the hard work of the Spokane delegation to secure this funding for medical education for WSU and UW.”

The University of Washington’s WWAMI program will also receive $5 million in state funding. WWAMI trains and prepares physicians to care for patients and communities throughout Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The program has been recognized by the Association of American Medical Colleges with the Outstanding Community Service Award and has been identified as the nation’s top primary care, family medicine and rural medicine training school.