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28 02, 2014

Senate Dems try Ninth Order strategy to revive homelessness bill

February 28th, 2014|Uncategorized|

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.”

 

25 02, 2014

Senate Democrats present education funding proposal

February 25th, 2014|Uncategorized|

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.

17 02, 2014

Governor calls key Democrats to participate in critical education funding discussion

February 17th, 2014|Uncategorized|

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.

14 02, 2014

Senate Dems call for transportation plan for “all Washingtonians”

February 14th, 2014|Uncategorized|

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

4 02, 2014

BILLS TO WATCH: Prolonging the cycle of debt

February 4th, 2014|Uncategorized|

WHAT: Senate Bill 6491

SPONSORED BY: Sens. Tom, Sheldon, Bailey, Braun, Ericksen, Honeyford, Parlette, Benton, Roach

WHERE IT’S AT: Scheduled for a hearing in Human Services and Corrections (2/4/14, 10 a.m. SHR 1)

WHAT IT DOES: Requires EBT cardholders to purchase new cards that include photo identification.

FACTS ABOUT THIS PROPOSED PROGRAM:

  • A similar program was proposed in 2012 but went nowhere in part because of a first-year price tag of more than $17 million with subsequent costs of $5 million per year after that.
  • Senate Bill 6491 gets around the costly start-up and administrative expense by shifting the cost onto the more than 670,000 EBT cardholders by requiring them to pay for this new expense.
  • The vast majority of WA EBT cardholders receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Under federal SNAP laws, caregivers must be allowed to purchase groceries on the behalf of immobile seniors and the disabled in their care.
  • This bill puts grocers in the position of either violating federal law by denying purchases completed by caregivers OR simply allowing anyone to use the card, thereby defeating the purpose of the bill.
  • Under the bill, seniors will have to travel to a state licensing center to get their photos taken for the card. If they cannot manage to do so, even if they are immobile or severely disabled, they will lose all benefits.

PAST EXAMPLE OF THIS PROGRAM

  • New York recently abandoned its photo ID program for cash assistance, citing high administrative costs and a lack of effectiveness at deterring fraud.

QUOTE FROM SEN. JEANNIE DARNEILLE:

“We must be sure that state programs are run efficiently, but this is not the answer.  This idea, forcing recipients to buy additional photo identification, adds a financial burden to all participants, and, for the immobile and disabled, it is a logistical nightmare.

“This went nowhere in New York, and should go nowhere here.  These programs exist as a way for people to climb out of debt and into the middle class. Extra financial burdens only prolong that process.”

4 02, 2014

BILLS TO WATCH: Prolonging the cycle of debt

February 4th, 2014|Eye on the Majority, Uncategorized|

WHAT: Senate Bill 6491

SPONSORED BY: Sens. Tom, Sheldon, Bailey, Braun, Ericksen, Honeyford, Parlette, Benton, Roach

WHERE IT’S AT: Scheduled for a hearing in Human Services and Corrections (2/4/14, 10 a.m. SHR 1)

WHAT IT DOES: Requires EBT cardholders to purchase new cards that include photo identification.

FACTS ABOUT THIS PROPOSED PROGRAM:

  • A similar program was proposed in 2012 but went nowhere in part because of a first-year price tag of more than $17 million with subsequent costs of $5 million per year after that.
  • Senate Bill 6491 gets around the costly start-up and administrative expense by shifting the cost onto the more than 670,000 EBT cardholders by requiring them to pay for this new expense.
  • The vast majority of WA EBT cardholders receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Under federal SNAP laws, caregivers must be allowed to purchase groceries on the behalf of immobile seniors and the disabled in their care.
  • This bill puts grocers in the position of either violating federal law by denying purchases completed by caregivers OR simply allowing anyone to use the card, thereby defeating the purpose of the bill.
  • Under the bill, seniors will have to travel to a state licensing center to get their photos taken for the card. If they cannot manage to do so, even if they are immobile or severely disabled, they will lose all benefits.

PAST EXAMPLE OF THIS PROGRAM

  • New York recently abandoned its photo ID program for cash assistance, citing high administrative costs and a lack of effectiveness at deterring fraud.

QUOTE FROM SEN. JEANNIE DARNEILLE:

“We must be sure that state programs are run efficiently, but this is not the answer.  This idea, forcing recipients to buy additional photo identification, adds a financial burden to all participants, and, for the immobile and disabled, it is a logistical nightmare.

“This went nowhere in New York, and should go nowhere here.  These programs exist as a way for people to climb out of debt and into the middle class. Extra financial burdens only prolong that process.”

3 02, 2014

BILLS TO WATCH: Safe oil transportation is key to safe communities

February 3rd, 2014|Eye on the Majority|

WHAT: Senate Bill 6524

SPONSORED BY: Senators Ericksen, Sheldon, Benton, Baumgartner, Holmquist Newbry, Braun, Parlette, Dammeier

MAJOR DIFFERENCES WITH SB 6262 (OIL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY ACT):

  • Doesn’t include the provision that would give basic information, such as quantity and type of oil, being moved through impacted communities.
  • Removes provision for marine spill prevention and replaces them with a study.

FACTS ABOUT 6524 AND OIL TRANSPORTATION

  • Takes funding from other environmental projects and appropriates it to first responders in impacted communities.
  • The Bakken crude oil being transported through Washington is much more dangerous and combustible than the oils being transported when many of our state’s safety laws were written in the 1970s.
  • Knowing the types of oil being transported through their communities allows first responders to prepare for a disaster, if and when it occurs.
  • More oil was spilled from trains in North America in 2013 than the previous 37 years combined.

QUOTE FROM SEN. CHRISTINE ROLFES:

“The public has the right to know what the rail and oil industry isn’t telling us. No amount of money can replace good information, and first responders need to be able to plan for emergencies based on information, not best guesses.

“Both parties in the state Legislature are working on this public safety issue, and of course we have different approaches. But the recent, dramatic increase in oil transportation is a serious and imminent concern for communities all over Washington, and it is vital that the Legislature work together, have the best interests of those communities in mind, and get this right.”