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The Hopper

Nelson: A positive revenue forecast is great news for our state and for Washington’s one million school kids

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following Wednesday’s news that state revenue is expected to rise $334 million this biennium and $125 million in 2017-19:

“A positive revenue forecast is great news for our state and for Washington’s one million school kids.

“There are many challenges we will need to face in 2017, including fully funding education and addressing homelessness and mental health care. Today’s forecast will be part of the solution to these challenges – but anyone that tells you these modest gains are a cure-all doesn’t fully grasp the magnitude of the tasks ahead.

“Senate Democrats welcome today’s good news, and are happy to take it into account as we continue our work getting ready for the 2017 legislative session.”


September 21st, 2016|Budget|

Nelson: Despite budget deal, work on education is far from over

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson on Tuesday issued the statement below following the passage of the supplemental operating budget and the completion of the 2016 legislative session:

“From Day 1, Senate Democrats laid out their priorities – education funding, ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness for thousands of Washingtonians and building a Washington that works for all.

“By staying focused on these priorities we were able to make significant strides to close the educational opportunity gap, block Senate Republican attempts to cut mental health programs and services to the elderly, blind and disabled, and ensure there were increased funds for state hospital staff, mobile crisis teams and additional mental health treatment beds.

“What is disappointing however, is that our work took too long – and really it is far from done. Since Republicans took over the Senate, we have averaged an extra 47 days to do the one task the Legislature is required to do – write a budget. Ideology has too often trumped compromise, and as a result it has taken far more effort than it should to do the work Washingtonians sent us here to do.

“I am proud of how hard Democrats fought for top priorities in this year’s budget. I am proud of how focused we stayed on these priorities, even as Senate Republicans used precious time on political grandstanding, including staging a public firing of the state’s top transportation official and mismanaging an expensive investigation that quickly lost credibility.

“We did some good work in 2016. But frankly we had an opportunity to lay the groundwork for real progress in advance of what will be a very difficult session next year – there is going to be a reckoning in 2017.”


March 29th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Nelson: Senate Republicans start backing away from “irresponsible” budget

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following the latest Senate Republican budget proposal that backs away from devastating cuts to mental health, and other critical state services:

“I’m pleased to see that Senate Republicans have now agreed with us.

“They have agreed with us that it is irresponsible to balance a budget by cutting mental health.

“They’ve agreed with us that it is irresponsible to make ends meet by raiding pensions dedicated to retired police, fire fighters and teachers.

“They have agreed with us that it makes no sense to raid other critical programs to pay for wildfires when the state’s Rainy Day Fund exists for these exact moments.

“Democrats in the House, Senate and the Governor have said from the start we would not support a budget written in such an irresponsible manner. Now Senate Republicans are finally starting to come around.

“There are still several disappointments in this budget. We must keep our promises to child care providers, and to the most vulnerable Washingtonians. We must do more for education and more to help our state’s homeless.

“We also must continue to negotiate in good faith. I have to ask, why wasn’t this offer made three days ago? Why did Senate Republicans go silent on Tuesday only to re-emerge late last night with an announcement that Ways and Means would meet today?

“The Senate Republicans were the only ones who knew anything about this budget until just a few hours ago – that is not transparent government.

“I hope the Senate Republicans will now work with us to finish our business.”

March 11th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Senate Republicans block yet another opportunity to prevent school funding cut

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson released the statement below following yet another Senate Republican rejection of a bill to prevent a $462 million cut to Washington’s public schools:

“I wish I knew why Senate Republicans continue to reject the idea of giving Washington’s one million school kids and their teachers the certainty that they won’t face a massive funding cut?

“The idea we are trying to pass originated with a Republican-sponsored bill.

“The House bill received nearly unanimous support in that chamber and was passed out of the Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee on an 8-1 vote on Feb. 25.

“During the operating budget debate on Feb. 26, an amendment to include this idea in the budget received 25 votes, but failed because of a Senate Republican rule requiring 60 percent to pass a budget amendment.

“Where were those 25 votes today? Where was the original sponsor who originally supported this idea? Where were the four Republicans who voted this out of committee or the three that voted for this idea just 16 days ago?

“We spent a lot of time today talking about education in the context of charter schools. I hope that the bill passed by the Senate today helps these kids.

“But it is well past time for us to talk about Washington’s one million school kids. It is well past time for us to address their needs, their schools and their education.”


ATTACHED: Potential cuts per school and legislative district if schools go over the levy cliff. Prepared by nonpartisan staff.



March 10th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Nelson: Washington’s school kids shortchanged in Senate Republican budget

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson on Friday released the statement below following the party-line passage of the Senate Republican budget:
“All year we have seen Senate Republicans focused on politics. Maybe that’s why their budget reads like an afterthought.

“Senate Republicans fall far short in addressing homelessness and they cut mental health in this state by $14 million.

“Most disappointing, however, is the harm they do to Washington’s one million school kids.

“The Senate Republican budget cuts $53 million from K-3 class size reduction. It ignores the opportunity gap. It does nothing to retain and attract quality teachers and falls far short of addressing the teacher shortage in a meaningful way.

“It also fails to prevent what would be the largest cut to K-12 education in the state’s history and ignores the McCleary fine – which continues to grow and has now surpassed $20 million.

“A budget represents values. It’s supposed to address the needs of our state and its people.

“At best the Senate Republican budget does nothing. At worst, it does serious damage to the people who can least afford it.”

February 26th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Nelson: Senate Republicans completely miss the mark on education

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following the unveiling of the Senate Republican budget:

“The Senate Republicans have ignored key issues important to the vast majority of Washingtonians all year. Their budget reflects that.

“Senate Republicans cut mental health, ignore our state’s homelessness problem and balance their budget by gambling with the pensions of retired firefighters, police officers and teachers.

“Most inexplicable, however, is the damage it does to K-12 education.

“The Senate Republican budget contains a hidden $53 million cut to K-3 class sizes. It ignores the $19 million fine owed for failing to produce an education funding plan. It falls far short of addressing the state’s teacher shortage crisis and does nothing to invest in attracting and retaining quality teachers.

“The House budget invests $99 million in K-12 education. This despite the misleading, manufactured hogwash you hear from Senate Republicans about a mythical cut.

“The Senate Republican budget doesn’t even kick the can down the road – it misses it entirely.”

February 24th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Billig’s campaign transparency bill blocked in the Senate

OLYMPIA – With an important legislative deadline looming, an attempt to bring a bipartisan campaign finance bill to the Senate floor for a vote was blocked by Senate Republicans today. This marks the third year in a row that the Republican majority has blocked this bill from moving forward.

“I’m disappointed and somewhat shocked that this legislation, which has bipartisan support, has again been prevented from receiving a thoughtful debate,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, the legislation’s sponsor.

Billig noted that earlier in the legislative session he had worked with some of the groups that opposed the bill and prepared an amendment that would have addressed many of their concerns. Even after these good faith efforts were made, the Senate Republican majority still blocked his move to bring the bill up for a vote.

“It’s becoming clear to me that the Senate Republicans are comfortable with allowing dark money and secret political donations to continue to influence Washington state elections,” said Billig.

The bill, SB 5153, would require non-profit organizations participating in state and local political campaigns to disclose their contributions and expenditures. Currently, some non-profits are funneling undisclosed “dark money” into political campaigns.

SB 5153 would also require disclosure of the organizations’ top 10 largest sources of funds that are greater than $10,000 and any additional donors in excess of $100,000. It would not require an organization to file with the Public Disclosure Commission until the organization has spent or contributed at least $25,000.

“Washington has good disclosure laws but there is a glaring loophole that needs to be closed to strengthen our Democracy and this bill would do just that,” said Billig.

The limits of Washington’s campaign finance disclosure laws have been made clear in recent years. In 2013, political committees on both sides of the aisle used their non-profit status to avoid disclosure of millions of dollars in donations. In another example, the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association avoided disclosure for donors after spending over $11 million to fund a committee opposed to Initiative 522. It was only after the discovery of a specific fundraising e-mail that the attorney general was able to require disclosure. Also in 2013, Working Washington — a registered nonprofit — raised more than $250,000 in support of the SeaTac minimum wage initiative but did not release the names of donors.

In 2014, when an independent organization spending money in a legislative election was able to use its non-profit status to avoid disclosing its donors, it drew outcry from numerous legislators. SB 5153 would have applied in all of these cases and required timely disclosure of donors.

“This isn’t a partisan bill, it doesn’t benefit any particular party,” said Billig. “Unfortunately, the disclosure loophole that this bill hopes to address is being exploited by both Democrats and Republicans. Ultimately, the people this bill benefits the most are the citizens of our state. They deserve to know where the money is coming from in political campaigns.”

February 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Nelson: It’s good that this step is complete, but let’s not forget the rest of the journey

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following the passage of a plan to address K-12 funding:

“It was a relief on Tuesday to see Senate Republicans finally relent and bring a plan to keep our promise to Washington’s one million school kids to the floor for a vote.

“However, let’s be clear – this is the bipartisan plan, not the Democratic plan. The Democratic plan would have gone farther. Our plan would have addressed inequities in our schools and committed the legislature to relieve the stress that an unfair and imbalanced levy system puts on poorer schools.

“This moves us forward – but only barely. This keeps us talking and that is very important.

“There’s so much more work to be done on education. We need to address the teacher shortage, the opportunity gap and numerous other issues to fulfill our promise to our kids.

“It’s good that this step is complete, but let’s not forget the rest of the journey.”

February 16th, 2016|Uncategorized|

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February 11th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Nelson: Washingtonians rely on the success of state government. Senate Republicans rely on the failure of state government to win elections

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson on Friday issued the statement below following Senate Republican votes to fire transportation secretary Lynn Peterson:

“It has been clear from the start, the Senate Republican plan for 2016 was to attack our state agencies, attack our state’s public servants and interfere with the good work done by so many of our state employees.

“Instead of focusing on the state’s urgent needs, Senate Republicans continue to look for people to blame.

“Already Senate Republicans have launched a redundant and very expensive taxpayer-funded investigation into DOC, they’re blaming the Health Care Authority for rising prescription drug costs, they’ve proposed a bill to cut hundreds of jobs from the Department of Ecology and now they have fired a capable and dedicated public servant – someone they recommended unanimously out of the Transportation Committee less than a year ago.

“It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy – cut government, undermine government, under fund government and then complain about government.

“Washingtonians rely on state government. Senate Republicans rely on the failure of state government to win elections.

“Focus on our school kids now, save the politics for November.”






February 5th, 2016|Uncategorized|