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Monthly Archives: January 2017

25 01, 2017

Lawmakers say students could pay for Republican inaction

January 25th, 2017|Uncategorized|

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23 01, 2017

Democrats urge Senate Republicans to act quickly on levy cliff

January 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|


OLYMPIA – The Senate Democratic Caucus on Monday delivered a letter to Majority Leader Mark Schoesler calling on Senate Republicans to pass legislation that would allow local school districts to continue to collect money that has been approved by district voters.

The letter, signed by all 24 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, urges Republicans to pass House Bill 1059 or its companion measure, Senate Bill 5023. The House of Representatives passed HB 1059 Monday on a bipartisan vote of 62-35.

If the legislation fails to pass the full Legislature, school districts across the state would lose $358 million – the largest cut to basic education in our state’s history—and be forced to map out worst-case scenario budgets that would cut programs, lay off staff and increase class sizes.

 

20 01, 2017

Statement from the Washington State Senate Members of Color Caucus

January 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|

 

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate Members of Color Caucus, Sens. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, John McCoy, D-Tulalip, Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, released the following statement:

“Today we have never been more proud to represent Washingtonians and the inclusive values we collectively hold.

“As a new administration takes over in the nation’s Capital, we stand ready to safeguard our state’s commitment to equal rights and human dignity. From the Yakima Valley to downtown Seattle, Vancouver to Spokane, we know many of our friends and neighbors are worried about attempts to foment hate and steer the path of our country away from justice.

“From the creation of reservations at our state’s founding, to Japanese internment camps during WWII, to mass detention and deportation of Latinos in the past two decades, it is not only the threats of a new president that make Washingtonians fearful, it is the experiences we carry with us.

“Our state has made great progress, but the job is never finished. Change comes from vigilance, from engagement and from organizing at the local level on up.

“The Washington State Senate Members of Color Caucus will continue to stand up for the immigrants who enrich the cultural and economic landscape of our state.

“We will continue to stand up for voters in every community until we all have the ability to be fully represented in fair elections.

“We will continue to confront racial bias in the criminal justice system and in other institutions built on the promise of equality.

“We will continue to fight for environmental protections, affordable health care, and tribal sovereignty.

“We will stand up for the rights of all citizens in the state, regardless of the color of their skin, their country of origin, how they worship or who they love.”

 

11 01, 2017

Recognizing Human Trafficking Awareness Day – a first for the State of Washington

January 11th, 2017|Radio, Uncategorized|

For the first time, the State of Washington recognized January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day. (TRT: 58) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

SCRIPT:

Wednesday, Jan. 11th marked the state’s first Human Trafficking Awareness Day as an official day of recognition. Sen. Maralyn Chase of Edmonds has worked on this issue for a number of years and is worried that there are still too many young girls and women who are potential targets.

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds: (TRT: 21) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Probably 94 percent, as near as we can calculate, of the women who are trafficked were picked up between the ages of 12 and 14. This is a crime against children. It is our responsibility to put an end to this, once and for all, and I believe that the State of Washington is one of the leaders in the world on this issue.”

Between 2002 and 2016, the State of Washington passed more than 40 anti-human trafficking laws. Human Trafficking Awareness Day was created in 2016 to raise the profile on the issue, to help educate people about potential warning signs, and to honor all victims of human trafficking.

In Olympia, I’m Nicole Vukonich.

10 01, 2017

Sen. Karen Keiser sponsors paid family and medical leave bill

January 10th, 2017|Radio|

Nearly a quarter of new mothers have to return to work just two weeks after giving birth. Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, is sponsoring a paid family and medical leave proposal that would give security to Washington families who need to take time away from work to care for their families. (TRT: 57 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

SCRIPT:
Sen. Karen Keiser of Des Moines has worked in the legislature on the issue of paid family and medical leave over the last 20 years. On Tuesday, surrounded by many colleagues, working men and women, moms, dads and children, she announced her sponsorship of Senate Bill 5032 – legislation that would create paid family and medical leave in the State of Washington. Sen. Keiser:

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent: (TRT: 19) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “All Washington’s working families share the same thing, and that is a health crisis can happen at any time. Whether it’s a parent who falls down and breaks their hip, whether it’s a spouse who has a heart attack, whether it’s a daughter who has a new baby prematurely, health crises happen anytime, anywhere, to anybody.”

Keiser is hopeful that with a large group of supporters from many key industries across Washington that the proposal will be successful and allow Washingtonians the security of being with loved ones when they’re needed the most.

In Olympia, I’m Nicole Vukonich

9 01, 2017

Senate Democrats focused and ready to work on first day of session

January 9th, 2017|Radio|

Deputy Senate Democratic Leader, Sen. Andy Billig of Spokane says that Senate Democrats are focused on creating opportunity and building prosperity for all Washingtonians, which includes fully funding basic education for our state’s 1.1 million schoolkids. (TRT: 57) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

 

SCRIPT:

Monday marked the beginning of a new Legislative Session, which is poised to be one of the more difficult sessions in recent memory due to the State Supreme Court’s deadline to fully fund basic education in our state. Deputy Leader of the Senate Democrats, Andy Billig of Spokane:

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane: TRT: 0:35 (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD): “Senate Democrats are very focused on creating opportunity and building prosperity for the people of Washington, and what that means in terms of specifics, is focusing on full funding of basic education and the whole educational spectrum with early learning and higher ed included as well. But making sure we don’t do that at the expense of the other things that help kids and families to be successful like having access to quality health care and a safe place to sleep at night and food security. So, uh, we’re taking a broad view of trying to help every family and every small business in our state to be successful now and in the long term.”

This year, the legislative session is scheduled to last 105 days.

I’m Nicole Vukonich, in Olympia.

9 01, 2017

Looking forward on education funding

January 9th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Seven months ago, eight lawmakers representing each legislative caucus were asked to examine nine outstanding questions related to the basic education funding problems that remain and make recommendations to the Legislature on what should be done to solve those problems.

The task was clear.

The questions were clear.

The timeline was clear.

The Democrats on this task force answered that call. We did our jobs. The Republicans did not.

After seven long months and countless hours of work, the four Democrats on this task force accepted the challenge and put forth a specific proposal we believe includes the right recommendations that will provide opportunities to learn for every child in this state.

It wasn’t easy. The four of us didn’t agree on everything simply because we’re all Democrats. Concessions were made by all of us because we know the best way forward is through compromise.

The Democrats were ready to share our proposed solutions with Republicans last week expecting that they were ready to do the same and negotiations would begin.
Unfortunately, they literally did not show up for the discussion we all agreed to have.

As a result, instead of adopting a joint set of specific recommendations for the Legislature to consider, or even two sets of specific recommendations from each caucus, this task force is left with one set of specific solutions from the Democrats and a set of guiding principles from the Republicans.

Representing the Democrats on this task force, our goal was to reach a bipartisan consensus on a set of recommendations we could send to the Legislature. Unfortunately, that will not happen because we have not received any specific recommendations from the Republicans.

With a bipartisan agreement no longer an option, Democrats would support the next best option, which would be to adopt the task force materials into the record with the Democratic solutions and Republican guiding principles included.

For reasons still not entirely clear to us, the Republicans will not support this option.

Therefore, because this task force has failed to produce a set of specific recommendations and has failed to support an alternative approach to include the Democratic solutions and the Republican guiding principles, Democrats will not support the adoption of a formal report that is empty of the one thing specifically required in SB 6195 – recommendations and solutions to fully fund education for Washington’s 1.1 million school children.

This vote today will not negate any of the hard work put in by members of this task force, our staff, and the independent consultants. We are proud of the solutions that were developed by our members of this task force, and especially thankful for all the countless staff hours that have been put in to support us.

And we thank the outside consultants who gathered and analyzed the data we needed to be successful and finish the job we were tasked to do and identify solutions to the specific questions in SB 6195.

Regardless of today’s votes, all of the materials, notes, and testimony are available online at leg.wa.gov for members of the media and the general public to read.
Going forward, House and Senate Democrats will continue to work on specific education policy and funding recommendations that we believe are best for Washington’s 1.1 million school kids.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what all this work is about – providing opportunities for every child to learn and reach their dreams.

No more excuses. No more delays. The Legislature needs to fully fund education this session.

That’ll be the primary focus of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses for the next 105 days. We encourage the Republicans to join us in that dialogue when they’re ready to propose specific recommendations.

We welcome our Republican colleagues to the table when they are ready to work together on solutions. We hope those discussions can begin soon for the sake of Washington’s 1.1 million public school kids.

Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, Ranking Member on K-12 Committee
Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, Deputy Democratic Leader
Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, House Majority Leader
Rep. Kris Lytton, D-Anacortes, Chair, House Finance Committee

4 01, 2017

Democrats release school funding recommendations

January 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Democratic education leaders on Wednesday released final recommendations on a K-12 school funding package to ensure competitive wages for teachers and to resolve the McCleary case before the state Supreme Court.

Senate and House Democrats unveiled their plan during one of the final the Education Funding Task Force meetings. The panel was set up seven months ago and was directed by law (SB 6195) to develop bipartisan recommendations by the start of the 2017 legislative session.

While a bipartisan agreement on recommendations could not be reached, Democratic education leaders released a detailed plan that provides an opportunity to build new schools across the state, place high-quality educators in every classroom and give 1.1 million Washington school kids opportunities to learn and achieve their dreams.

House and Senate Republicans declined to propose a plan and instead submitted a “guiding principles” document.

Click below to read more about the plan released by House and Senate Democrats on the Education Funding Task Force: