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

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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.

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    Billig: Levy cliff bill is a win for students and schools, now let’s look forward and fully fund K-12

Billig: Levy cliff bill is a win for students and schools, now let’s look forward and fully fund K-12

March 9th, 2017|

Olympia- Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, issued the following statement today regarding the passage of Senate Bill 5023, commonly known as the levy cliff bill. Billig played an instrumental role in the negotiation process that resulted in the bill finally being brought to the floor for a vote:

“I’m certain that families, teachers and administrators in Spokane and across the state are feeling a sense of relief now that the levy cliff bill has passed – I’m relieved too.

“Schools in Spokane stood to lose more than $14 million in funding.

“This bill not only provides a sense of certainty for our teachers, families and students, it is a testament to what we can accomplish when we put our political differences aside to do the right thing.

“Often when people think about government, they think about D.C. and gridlock.

“But in this state, we have proven that we can work together to find common ground.

“With that said, it’s time to put this issue behind us and look forward. After all, this is only a small step towards meeting our constitutional obligation to fully and fairly fund our schools.

“I am confident that if we use the same spirit of cooperation we saw today, we can negotiate and finalize a complete education funding solution that helps every student achieve their fullest potential.

# # #

 

For more information: Jon Fowler, Senate Democratic Caucus – 360-786-7535

  • Permalink Gallery

    Senate Majority blocks Billig’s campaign finance legislation

Senate Majority blocks Billig’s campaign finance legislation

March 8th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, released the following statement after the Republican Senate majority blocked his motion to bring the DISCLOSE Act (Senate Bill 5219), his signature campaign finance transparency legislation, to the floor for a vote:

“Prior to my motion, Senate Republicans brought to the floor politically divisive legislation they claimed would lead to greater transparency and accountability in our elections.

“In response to their expressed desire to address the glaring loopholes of our elections process and the funding of political campaigns, I moved to bring SB 5219 up for a vote so we could have a broader and more productive conversation about ways to make our democracy stronger.

“Their refusal to consider SB 5219 paints a clear picture that they are not interested in accountability and fairness in our elections.

“This is now the fourth year in a row that the Republican majority in the Senate has blocked this transparency bill from moving forward.

“This is especially frustrating because this bill would address a nonpartisan issue.

“The disclosure loophole that this bill would fix is being exploited by groups across the political spectrum. Ultimately, this bill benefits not one party or another but the citizens of our state. They deserve to know where the money is coming from in political campaigns.

“Instead of playing political games and masquerading them as campaign finance reform, let’s get busy reforming our campaign financing process so we can shine a bright light on players from across the political spectrum who are trying to stay in the shadows.”

Background: http://sdc.wastateleg.org/billig/2016/02/18/billigs-campaign-transparency-bill-blocked-in-the-senate/

 

E News- Town Hall Meeting on Saturday!

March 7th, 2017|

It’s hard to believe, but we are now halfway through this 105-day legislative session. Tomorrow represents a big deadline with the “House of Origin” cut-off. All Senate bills not passed out of the Senate by 5 pm tomorrow are dead for this year unless they are directly related to the budget.

Spokane Town Hall

I hope you can join my seatmates and me this Saturday at our town hall in Spokane. Town halls provide an open forum where we can hear directly from you about the issues that matter to you most and answer your questions. We will cover education funding, transportation, tax fairness, human services, health care, and more.

Town Hall Meeting Details:

  • Saturday, March 11, from 9:30 to 11 a.m.
  • Washington Cracker Factory/Terrain, 304 W Pacific Ave.

Keep in Touch

I hope you can join us for a discussion at next week’s town hall, but you don’t have to wait to see me in person to get in touch. If you have a comment or question, feel free to contact me at any time.

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

Onward!

3rd District Legislators to host town hall in Spokane

March 1st, 2017|

Who: State Sen. Andy Billig, Rep. Timm Ormsby and Rep. Marcus Riccelli

What: Town hall meeting

When: Saturday, March 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Where: Washington Cracker Factory/Terrain, 304 W Pacific Ave, Spokane

Why: This is an opportunity to speak in person with your legislators about issues important to Spokane and your community. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Fully funding education
  • Job creation
  • Mental health services
  • Transportation improvements
  • Protecting the social safety net
  • and answers to your questions

E News- Spokanites in Olympia

February 21st, 2017|

Last Friday marked what is known around here as policy cutoff day. It is one of the first hurdles in the lifecycle of a bill becoming a law. At this point, any policy bill (non-budget related) that hasn’t been voted out of its policy committee will not continue through the legislative process this session. This week we will work on passing bills out of the fiscal committees and then the focus will go to considering bills as a full Senate.

Spokanites Testify in Support of Oil Train Speed Limits

Last week in the Senate Transportation Committee, Spokane City Councilperson Breean Beggs and Mike Petersen, the executive director of the Lands Council, testified in support of Senate Bill 5098, which would allow cities such as Spokane to set lower speed limits for trains carrying hazardous materials like Bakken crude oil.

You can watch their testimony by clicking here.

Hearing You Loud and Clear

Thank you to all the constituents who braved the pass on Monday to spend their President’s Day in Olympia. Members from Washington CAN, Planned Parenthood, NAMI Spokane, the Spokane County Young Democrats, and the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council all made the trip from Spokane to share their voices on issues important to them.

I truly value your input and I am able to do my job most effectively when I hear from you. Anytime there is an issue you care deeply about, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Spokane Town Hall

To update you on what has been happening so far here in Olympia and to receive your input, my 3rd District seatmates and I will hold a Spokane town hall meeting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 11. This meeting is a perfect opportunity for constituents to provide feedback and have questions answered on a variety of topics including education funding, job creation, health and wellness, transportation improvements, etc.

Town Hall Meeting Details:

  •  9:30 -11 a.m. Saturday, March 11
  • Washington Cracker Factory/Terrain, 304 W Pacific Ave.

Keeping in Touch

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

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

Onward!

Andy

E News- Federal Official to Testify on Billig Bill

February 6th, 2017|

Tele-Town Hall

Last week, my seatmates and I hosted a tele-town hall. I hope you were able to participate and found the event to be informative. If you were not able to tune in, you can listen to the event in its entirety by clicking here.

Stopping Foreign Money in elections

Our bill, SB 5570, to prevent foreign-owned companies from contributing to political campaigns in Washington state will receive a public hearing in the State Government Committee on Wednesday.

Under federal law, foreign nationals are prohibited from making political contributions or financing campaign activities whether acting as individuals or as a corporation. SB 5570 requires that corporations donating to campaigns in Washington state declare whether their ownership is comprised of less than 50 percent foreign nationals.

Ellen L. Weintraub, a Federal Election Commissioner, is travelling all the way from Washington D.C. to testify in support of this bill. You can read a New York Times op-ed she wrote about this issue by clicking here.

Spokane Hall of Fame

Is there someone you know in the Lilac City who has inspired you by his or her contributions to our community as a leader, volunteer, teacher or artist? If so, nominate them for the 3rd annual Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame Awards. Nominations are due by Feb. 15.

This year, I am proud to nominate Lori Wyborney, the principal of Roger’s High School. Lori is responsible for implementing a school wide program intended to improve literacy among all of her students. In 2015, Lori was named the Washington State Principal of the Year.

Keeping in Touch

Please keep in touch throughout the legislative session. I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in our state. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have a comment, idea or questions.

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

Onward!

Andy

Billig bill aims to stop foreign money in politics

February 6th, 2017|

Olympia – Sen. Andy Billig’s, D-Spokane, Senate Bill 5570 that would prevent foreign-owned companies from contributing to political campaigns in Washington state will receive a public hearing in the Senate State Government Committee on Feb. 8 at 8 a.m.

“We have an obligation to keep Washington’s elections free, fair and in accordance with federal law,” said Billig. “As American citizens, our First Amendment rights grant us the freedom to participate in elections. That right is not afforded to foreign nationals or corporations with foreign owners. ”

Under federal law, foreign nationals are forbidden from directly making political contributions or financing campaign activities whether acting as individuals or as a corporation.

SB 5570 requires that corporations donating to campaigns in Washington state declare whether their ownership is comprised of less than 50 percent foreign nationals.

“The threat of foreign influence on American elections became all too real this past election cycle. This should be of tremendous concern to every American, regardless of party,” said Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub of the Federal Election Commission, who has long advocated for better enforcement and clarification of federal law prohibiting foreign spending in U.S. elections. “Sen. Billig’s bill is an innovative and commendable step that will help prevent foreign influence from seeping into Washington’s elections through corporations.”

Weintraub is travelling all the way from Washington D.C. to testify in support of the legislation at the public hearing.

“Transparent elections are the foundation of a healthy democracy,” added Billig. “That foundation is eroded when big money is spent without disclosure, especially if that funding originates overseas. That isn’t right and it must be stopped.”