The Hopper

Democratic lawmakers host retirement insecurity work session

OLYMPIA – State legislators held a work session today, casting a light on the growing problem of retirement insecurity in Washington.

One in four Washington residents between the ages of 45-64 years old has $25,000 or less in savings for retirement. In addition, 77 percent of employees who work for small businesses lack the option to save through a workplace retirement plan. Nationwide, the majority of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings and a third of working people say they have even less than that saved for retirement.

There were nine presenters from business, labor, finance and research sectors. They discussed a wide variety of issues ranging from defined benefit pension plans, to small business options and worker retirement readiness.

Even though the economy is recovering, Americans remain concerned and anxious about retirement, and they want help. In fact, 89 percent of Americans have indicated that they are seeking some form of retirement assistance or guidance. More and more employers are offering 401k plans instead of traditional defined benefit plans, making retirement even more difficult to navigate.

Click on the links below for more information and to view the documents and presentations from today’s work session:

Overview of Retirement in Washington (Millman)

How Washington Rates on Retirement Security and Defined Benefit Plan Issues (National Institute on Retirement Security)

Can you afford to grow old in Washington State? (Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging)

State Based Social Security (AFSCME)

Are Washington Workers Ready for Retirement? (The New School)

Retirement Plans that Work for Small Business (Small Business Majority)

Public Sector and Non-Profit Retirement (TIAA CREF)

Work and Save (AARP)

Work Session Agenda

Legislators who participated: Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma; Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle; Sen. Maralyn Chase, D- Seattle; Sen. Karen Fraser, D- Thurston County; Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D- Seattle; Sen. Karen Keiser, D- Kent; and Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater.

April 8th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Dems: Democratic core values strongly represented in budget

Members of leadership and the Senate Democratic budget negotiating team issued the statement below following the announcement of a deal on the 2014 supplemental operating budget Thursday:

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam:

“I said it from the beginning: this budget was not going to contain any cuts to our safety net. I am pleased that we have come together to pass a budget that accomplishes just that.

“Not only did we prevent cuts, we actually were able to add some money that will strengthen mental health services.

“This supplemental budget has my full support but it should also be considered a launching pad for further budget next year and beyond.”

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island:

“When you factor in every aspect – no new tax breaks, strengthened protections for our environment and our most vulnerable citizens, huge new investments in mental health programs and nearly $60 million more in K-12 funding – all improvements over the original Senate proposal – this is a strong Democratic budget that protects and advances our core values.

“While I am proud of the work that went into this budget and its components, I believe that the hardest work is still ahead of us as we must significantly increase education funding.”

Sen. Nelson:

“Sens. Hargrove and Ranker worked to put together a budget that more than represents Democratic values – it is very nearly a Democratic budget.

“While we are pleased with the final product, there is no question we have a staggeringly large bill coming due for K-12 funding in our state in just a few short years. If we are to meet our constitutional obligation to our kids – and meet it responsibly – new revenue and dedicated funding sources must be part of the conversation next year.

“Most estimates are that we’ll need to invest at least $5 billion more in K-12 education by 2018. We simply cannot do that by raiding funding from other programs that also exist to indirectly help children and families.

“Tough decisions await us all next year.”

 

March 13th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Eide: ‘I will not be running for re-election’

Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, issued the following statement today:

“I will not be running for re-election as senator of the 30th Legislative District this November. Shortly after my re-election in 2010, I decided that this term would be my last and that I would pour myself into this term and then open the door for someone else. That time is here.

“After 18 years in the Legislature, including 16 in the Senate, I leave with mixed feelings. I’ve taken joy and satisfaction in every successful effort on behalf of my constituents and my state, and I’ve agonized over those that came up short. It has been a point of privilege and honor to represent my district. I wish I could have done even more, but I’m sure every legislator feels that way.

“I came to the Legislature as a PTA mom and never lost my passion for fighting to improve opportunities for our students. From leading the fight for Simple Majority legislation to eliminate the supermajority voting requirement to pass school levies, to funding the Digital Learning Commons, I’ve never stopped fighting that fight. Along the way, I was also proud to lead the charge for the Intermediate Driver’s License legislation that has reduced teen driving deaths and serious injuries by nearly half, and the highway safety bill that restricts drivers from texting or talking on handheld phones.

“None of these gains came quickly or easily, but all were worth the years and work it took to shepherd them to passage. If just one child is a better student or one less Washingtonian dies in an auto accident because of those laws, it will have been more than worth it. And I would be remiss if I failed to salute the many colleagues and stakeholders who fought so hard, for so long, alongside me to make sure those bills became reality. Thank you for fighting the good fight and for fighting it so well.

”It has been my fortune and my pleasure to have worked with many, many amazing and unforgettable people over the years, both inside and outside the Legislature. I thank them for their help and their blood and their sweat and their tears.

“Most of all, I thank my constituents for trusting me to represent their interests. I have been humbled and honored to serve the fine people of my district.”

March 10th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Bill to seal juvenile records passes unanimously in the Senate

Washington state will no longer be one of three states that sells juvenile records, as a result of legislation unanimously passed Friday in the Senate. (TRT: 1:31 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

 

Juvenile records will be able to be sealed for nonviolent juvenile offenders, according to a bill that was unanimously passed in the Senate. House Bill 1651 will have to go back to the House for concurrence before heading to the governor’s desk. Rep. Ruth Kagi of Seattle was a sponsor of the bill and has worked on this issue for many years.

Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle: (TRT: 24) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Most states, 42 states, their records are closed and they are able to move forward and get jobs, get an education, get housing. In Washington state that has not been true. And now, many, many youth will have the opportunity to close their juvenile records. There will be a sealing done on their juvenile records when they turn 18 if they have fulfilled all of the requirements of their sentence.”

Washington state was one of only eight states who do not seal juvenile records and is one of only three states in the country who sold the information. This made it difficult for adults who made mistakes as young people and have to carry their records with them through adulthood. Sen. Jeannie Darneille of Tacoma has been looking into the disproportionalities among minority groups and our state’s juvenile justice system.

Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma: (TRT: 19) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “This is really a win to be able to set up a system that will affect between 6 ,000 and 7,000 youth in our system right now – That they will be able to have those records sealed by a judge when they turn 18 years old if they have not had a violent offense. So, this is a very exciting day.”

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia

March 7th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Video: Beef Day 2014!

Sen. Brian Hatfield goes “Beef Mode” and welcomes the Washington Cattlemen’s Association to Olympia for Beef Day 2014.

March 6th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats hold briefing on Reproductive Parity Act

Senate Democrats held a briefing Monday to discuss issues surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the Reproductive Parity Act (HB 2148).

Lawmakers and experts in the fields of insurance, health care and reproductive rights held the briefing after the chair of the Senate Health Care Committee denied the RPA a public hearing during the 2014 legislative session.

“It’s time to have a conversation in the Senate,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, who sponsored the same bill in the Senate. “Coverage for reproductive services will remain unclear if we fail to at the very least have a conversation about the impact the Affordable Care Act will have on RPA.”

Last month, the House of Representatives passed the Reproductive Parity Act for the third straight year. The legislation would ensure that all women in Washington have health insurance coverage that includes the full range of reproductive health care options.

“While a majority of the Senate supports the measure, Majority Leader Rodney Tom and the Senate Republicans continue to prevent a serious discussion with the public,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson.  “Washington voters have said over and over again that choice is a right they support. It’s time to give this issue the consideration it deserves.”

March 3rd, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Dems try Ninth Order strategy to revive homelessness bill

OLYMPIA — The morning after Senate Republicans struck down a bill to help the homeless, Senate Democrats attempted to bring the bill to the Senate floor but were prevented from doing so on a party line 26-23 vote.

“In my district, and in districts across the state, this is the most important source of funding we have to help the homeless,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island. “People are playing politics with an issue that should be supported by everyone. There shouldn’t even be a second thought.”

On Thursday Republican Sen. Jan Angel adjourned the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee before HB 2368 could be heard, essentially killing the bill in the Committee’s last day before today’s deadline for bills to clear committee.

Democrats say they aren’t going to give up on HB 2368 or a companion bill SB 6313 sponsored by Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma. But on Thursday night and then again on Friday morning, Senate Republicans stood in the way of helping our state’s increasing homeless population find shelter on a cold night.

“We had reached a bipartisan and bicameral solution to this issue and for whatever reason that was blown up,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, co-chair of the Senate’s Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee. “To simply do away with a primary source of funding that actually helps solve the homeless problem is ignorant at best and evil at worst.”

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See Also:

Tacoma News Tribune: Shared Senate committee leadership turns contentious over homelessness money

PubliCola: Morning Fizz: “What a Weird Evening.”

 

February 28th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats present education funding proposal

Senate Democratic leaders today presented a beginning proposal for a plan for fully funding basic education by 2018. The plan outlines a series of year-by-year goals for the phasing-in of full funding of basic education, including educator compensation.

The legislation also includes a proposal to immediately increase education funding in the 2014 session by more than $100 million through closing unproductive tax loopholes. The Democrats’ plan would dedicate the money towards proven reforms that increase student achievement like class size reduction and all-day kindergarten, and to basic costs that should be paid for by the state instead of local districts, like textbooks, other operating and cost-of-living salary adjustments for educators.

“Funding a great education for all students is our paramount duty,” said Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell. “It’s urgent that we take action this session to fulfill the promise we made to the children in our public schools. It’s going to take new revenue to fulfill this obligation to our students, and reducing class sizes for our children and grandchildren should be more important than preserving tax loopholes for Big Oil.”

On Jan. 9, the Supreme Court ruled in an order to the Legislature that “The need for immediate action could not be more apparent. Conversely, failing to act would send a strong message about the State’s good faith commitment toward fulfilling its constitutional promise.” The court further ruled, “It is incumbent upon the State to demonstrate, through immediate, concrete action, that it is making real and measurable progress, not simply promises.”

“We have a multi-billion dollar funding challenge ahead of us,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “We’ve got to get our funding back on track now or the gap we’ll need to make up in the future to fully fund education will be even larger. This proposal is a reasonable step we can take this year to invest in real improvement in student achievement.”

The bill also includes a phase-in plan for moving towards fully funding basic education by 2018. The legislation establishes year-by-year goals for linearly phasing-in the priorities outlined specifically in SHB 2776, while also establishing final 2018 target values for other components of our basic education program and a plan for funding those enhancements. In recognition of the Court’s statement that it is “deeply troubling” that the state has not offered any plan for meeting its educator compensation obligations, the bill also includes a phase-in plan for compensation. 

“The Supreme Court was clear that we needed a plan for fully funding education. This is just such a plan,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. “We need to send a clear message to the Supreme Court and to Washington students and their families that we will fulfill the promises we made in 2009 when we redefined basic education. We’re happy to work with Republicans if we can find a bipartisan agreement on a plan to send to the court, but this message needs to be sent by somebody. Let’s not risk a constitutional crisis. Let’s get this done.”

You can watch video of the press conference here.

You can take a closer look at the proposal here.

You can view the entire bill here.

You can listen to the audio release here.

February 25th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Governor calls key Democrats to participate in critical education funding discussion

Sens. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island and David Frockt, D-Seattle, were recently appointed to represent the Senate Democratic Caucus for a critical discussion on K-12 education funding.

The Senators join the Governor as well as representatives from each of the four legislative caucuses. The group is tasked with answering a directive from the State Supreme Court which includes the development of a K-12 funding plan by April 30th.

“We’ve passed major reforms for student learning in recent years, like class size reduction so that our children receive the individual attention they deserve, but we still haven’t funded them,” McAuliffe said. “This work group is a chance for us to finally find a path forward to fulfill the promises we’ve made to students and their families. This is our paramount duty, and our children and grandchildren are counting on us to take action.”

“We have some serious work to do in a very short period of time,” said Ranker, the assistant ranking member on the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee. “We cannot continue to take money from other people who desperately need it to answer our obligation to our school kids. A dedicated funding source is the only truly sustainable solution.”

“As we said in the Democratic draft of the Article IX report to the Supreme Court, we’re still not on track to fulfill our constitutional and moral obligation to fully fund a basic education for all Washington students,” Frockt said. “We cannot take the risk of a constitutional crisis over education funding – we should all be able to agree that getting this done and funding these transformative reforms for our students is the right thing to do. Let’s get to work.”

The group will sit down for the first time together Tuesday morning.

February 17th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Dems call for transportation plan for “all Washingtonians”

After Senate Republicans unveiled a new transportation proposal, Senate Democrats remain less than impressed. (TRT: 2:18) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

February 14th, 2014|Uncategorized|