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So far awasser has created 46 entries.
8 03, 2017

Nelson: “Now that we have passed the levy cliff bill, it is time to continue our work to fully and fairly fund education”

March 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson released the statement below following the long-awaited passage of the levy cliff bill:

“I’d like to thank all of the students, teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, PTA members and everyone who worked tirelessly to finally convince Senate Republicans to relent and work with us to pass this bill.

“There was almost literally no student, teacher, family or school district that was immune to the potential devastation a $358 million cut would have had. Today I’m happiest for them.

“Now that we have passed the levy cliff bill, it is time to continue our work to fully and fairly fund education.

“Senate Democrats are completely dedicated to solving this issue and making sure that all 1.1 million students in our state have access to a world-class education.

“I hope Republicans will join us in this endeavor and resist the urge to reach this goal by relying entirely on billions of dollars in property taxes and devastating cuts.

“Let’s fully and fairly fund education in a way that benefits the most Washingtonians.”

 

6 03, 2017

Nelson: “There are 24 Democrats ready to pass the levy cliff. We need one Republican to join us”

March 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below on the Senate Republican’s decision to adjourn rather than bring the levy cliff bill to the floor Monday:

“There are 24 Senate Democrats ready to vote ‘yes’ to pass this bill. We need one Republican to join us.

“One.

“Rather than let a vote happen, rather than see if there is one single Republican out there ready to pass this bill which impacts kids in every corner of our state, Republican leadership decided instead to adjourn.

“We believe there is at least one Republican willing to stand against their party and with students, teachers and families all across Washington.

“I’m calling for Senate Republican leadership to bring the levy cliff bill up for a vote. One way or another, whether it passes or fails, every Washingtonian will have the chance to see with whom you stand – with them or with your party.”

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

21 09, 2016

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

September 21st, 2016|Budget|

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.”

 

29 03, 2016

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

March 29th, 2016|Uncategorized|

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.”

 

11 03, 2016

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

March 11th, 2016|Uncategorized|

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.”

24 02, 2016

Nelson: Senate Republicans completely miss the mark on education

February 24th, 2016|Uncategorized|

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.”

4 02, 2016

Senate Democrats unveil the Bring Washington Home Act

February 4th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Communities throughout Washington are reporting a spike in their homeless population. What has long been a problem is quickly becoming a crisis.

Because of the urgency of this growing issue, Senate Democrats are sponsoring the Bring Washington Home Act, a plan to make targeted investments in programs aimed at breaking the cycle of homelessness and help the less fortunate get off the streets.

“Homelessness is not just a problem in cities. It isn’t just a problem in King County or Western Washington. Homelessness impacts every community and it’s getting worse,” said Sen. Sharon Nelson, the bill’s prime sponsor. “We must act now and we must act decisively to combat this problem.”

Numbers from last week’s One Night Count are starting to come in. Homelessness is up 19 percent in King County and it’s up a devastating 54 percent in Snohomish County. OSPI just reported that more than 35,000 Washington students don’t have a safe and consistent place to sleep at night.

Senate Bill 6647 will tap into the state’s Rainy Day Fund which is money set aside to be used for emergencies. One percent of existing tax dollars are put into the Rainy Day Fund annually. The fund is projected to be at over $700 million by June of 2017 and over a billion dollars in 2019.

“We can attack this problem at the source and do it in a way that doesn’t raise taxes,” Nelson said. “There is a homelessness crisis in our state. Issues like this is why we have a Rainy Day fund. For the thousands of Washingtonians living on our streets it’s pouring and we can help them.

“We must act now. Inaction only makes the problem worse.”

Nelson was joined by other leaders who voiced support for the plan. Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby, Vancouver City Councilwoman Alishia Topper and Julio Cortes, the public relations manager at Cocoon House, a non-profit that provides access to short- and long-term housing for homeless youth in Everett, also spoke for the need to address the homeless crisis in their communities.

Also in attendance were many of the 23 Senate Democrats who signed onto the bill.

The Bring Washington Home Act will make targeted investments in the following programs:

• $18.455 million targeted toward services such as rapid rehousing for people who are mentally ill, chemically dependent and/or chronically homeless.

• $4.625 million targeted for homeless youth; including HOPE beds, the Street Youth program, and funding for the homeless student stability and opportunity gap act (SB 6298 sponsored by Sen. David Frockt)

• $3 million for consolidated homeless grants

• $60 million toward shelter and support services for the homeless and families at risk of becoming homeless

• $95 million toward the Housing Trust Fund for building supportive or other housing, and $5 million for maintenance and operations for housing stock. This $95 million will drive $190 million in housing investments, when those funds are combined with other resources (donations, grant money, tax credits, local funding) used in conjunction with the Housing Trust Fund.

28 01, 2016

Senate Republicans gut bipartisan McCleary bill

January 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|

A cornerstone bill to address Washington state’s education funding obligations is at risk of being made irrelevant by amendments that will be proposed by Senate Republicans in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 8:00 a.m.

SB 6195 is the result of months long negotiations between both parties in the Senate and House as well as the governor’s office. Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County and Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, were the lead negotiators for Senate Democrats.

“It is extremely disappointing that Senate Republicans will turn a bipartisan agreement into a partisan plan,” said Rolfes. “They commit only to addressing local levies, without a commitment to the state paying its fair share – which is the reason the state was sued in the first place. People following this issue thought the plan couldn’t get weaker. Unbelievably, the Senate Republicans have lowered the bar.”

“I’m disappointed that after participating in a productive bipartisan workgroup, the Senate Republicans have decided to abandon our agreement,” said Billig. “It is our constitutional duty to fully fund education and it’s frustrating that the Republicans don’t see this as an urgent issue, because our more than one million public school kids and their families surely do.”

• Only commits to addressing local funding
• Removes the only commitment in the bill to increase state funding
• Pushes timeline from 2017 to 2018, a non-budget year
• Removes any reference to capital considerations for K-3 class size reductions

You can view the amendment here.

25 01, 2016

Nelson: House makes education a priority, time for Senate Republicans to do the same

January 25th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson on Monday issued the statement below following the House’s passage of several important bills to address Washington’s education system:

“The House on Monday made it crystal clear – education is the most important issue we must address this year.

“We only have a limited amount of time with which to work. The sense of urgency displayed by the House showed where their priorities lie. I hope the Senate Republicans will follow suit.

“I’m calling on Senate Republican leadership to act quickly on these critical education bills. We owe it to Washington’s one million school kids to address issues like unfair high stakes testing, the state’s teacher shortage and a bill to reaffirm our commitment to take action during the 2017 legislative session in order to fully fund education.

“Our time is limited. I applaud the House for acting so quickly. I encourage Senate Republicans to do the same.”