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10 01, 2018

Senate Democrats to hear higher education bills to expand access and opportunity to all Washingtonians

January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats have introduced a package of higher education bills to ensure access and opportunity for all Washingtonians. The Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will begin work to ensure DREAMers have opportunity regardless of federal action, find solutions for students mired in massive student loan debt and make college free for low-income students facing the high cost of higher education.

The committee will hear bills at 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, in the Cherberg Building Senate Hearing Room 2.

SB 5074, Eligibility for financial aid programs for DREAMers
• Extends the standard established in 2003, when the state first allowed eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges to include those who were granted DACA status to ensure DREAMers are eligible for state financial aid programs.
Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “Every Washingtonian deserves access to higher education, and the opportunities that will follow. Policies at the national level have placed DREAMers in jeopardy. We as a state need to make it clear that DREAMers deserve respect, and that they deserve access to the financial aid packages that Washington offers.”

SB 6029, Establishing a student loan bill of rights.
• Creates new protections for borrowers, requires loan servicers to obtain a license from the state and establishes a Student Education Loan Advocate to assist and aid borrowers.
Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood: “I’m one of the 800,000 Washingtonians still paying off my student loans, so I really understand the economic pressures people face when trying to plan for their future. The student debt crisis is going to continue to grow and we should act now to protect borrowers from predatory loan servicers.”

SB 6101, Evergreen Free College Act:
• Creates the Evergreen Free College Program to offer free college to all Washingtonians making $89,000 or less for a family of four.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island and committee chair: “There is a huge need in expanding access and opportunity for children, particularly those who do not have the ease of access and support of many families. While many of our lowest income students are eligible for our Student Need Grant and other programs, many students’ parents make just a bit more than those thresholds but can still not afford college. It is our duty to make absolutely sure that every single child has the chance to fully pursue their educational and training dreams and fully succeed in life.”

14 12, 2017

Rolfes: Governor’s budget makes smart, targeted investments

December 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, incoming chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released the following statement after the release of the governor’s 2018 operating supplemental budget proposal.

“I appreciate the work the governor has done to craft a prudent supplemental budget proposal that offers a blueprint to complete our work in 60 days.

“This budget takes the final step in our duty to amply fund basic education and makes smart, targeted investments in programs that lift Washingtonians up. I appreciate the governor’s focus on expanding treatment for mental health patients and his commitment to protecting affordable health care for all residents.

“This is a realistic approach that will guide the Legislature as we work to put people first with a balanced budget delivered on time.”

30 11, 2017

Senate officially turns blue as Dhingra is sworn in

November 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|

SEATTLE – Manka Dhingra was sworn in Wednesday as the state senator for the 45th Legislative District. Dhingra’s swearing in gives Democrats a 25-24 majority in the Senate ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session.

“I’m humbled and proud to represent the communities of the 45th Legislative District,” Dhingra said. “I promise to represent each and every one of my constituents with integrity, honesty and a commitment to solving problems with my colleagues—regardless of their party affiliation. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I am confident that by working together we can make progress toward a better future for our district, our state and our country.”

A King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney and longtime advocate for women, children, and veterans, Dhingra is slated to serve as vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice and Human Services & Corrections committees in 2018.

15 11, 2017

Senate Democrats: Pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling, but hard work remains on school funding

November 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Democratic leads on K-12 Education on Wednesday reacted to the state Supreme Court’s latest order on the McCleary decision:

“We are very pleased that the Legislature and the Supreme Court are in strong agreement that the state has made significant progress on basic education policy, and that some important work remains,” said incoming chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County. “Many lawmakers, myself included, have had conversations with our school districts since the 2017 session concluded. We know some steps need to be taken to ensure they have the flexibility and funding they need to provide students with the best education possible and in the fairest way for taxpayers. This order reiterates the need for these conversations to continue and intensify.”

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has largely affirmed the work we have done to help students in Washington succeed,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Deputy Leader Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “We knew the plan needed to be further refined and will incorporate the court’s guidance in to our work to improve the state’s plan to fund basic education. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to uphold our constitutional obligation to fully fund our schools and help every child achieve their fullest potential.”

14 11, 2017

Rolfes to chair Senate budget committee

November 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, was chosen to chair the crucial Senate budget committee, Ways & Means, on Monday. This appointment follows the 2017 election results, which shifted control of the state Senate from Republicans to Democrats.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve as chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee,” Rolfes said. “The decisions we make in Olympia have very real impacts on the people of this state, particularly with regards to how their tax dollars are spent. As chair of Ways & Means, I will work every day to ensure the best interests of Washingtonians are at the heart of everything we do.”

In her new role, Rolfes will be the Senate’s chief budget writer and negotiator, set the committee’s agenda and lead her colleagues in determining what bills will move through the committee to be considered for a vote of the Senate.

Rolfes has served in leadership roles within the Senate Democratic caucus in recent years. She was a chief negotiator on education policy and funding during the critical 2017 legislative session and has served as one of two lead Democrats on the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Rolfes will also serve as vice chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

“Following some sweeping tax policy changes in the last legislative session, my aim is to make sure schools have the flexibility and funding they need, taxes are fair, businesses have the space to grow and workers across this state can thrive,” Rolfes added. “It is also critical we get our work done on time and in a transparent way.”

5 09, 2017

Nelson: Decision to end DACA is un-American

September 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson released the statement below following the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program:

“DACA kids are American kids. They are contributing members of society who had no control over the circumstances that brought them to this country – their country.

“Ending this program flies in the face of what this country stands for. Simply put, President Trump’s decision is un-American.

“We stand with the thousands of DACA kids in our state, and those who are fighting this cruel and short-sighted decision.

“We also call on Republicans in our state and those in Congress to do their jobs, stand up for what’s right and stand up for all children.”

30 06, 2017

Landmark education bill adds $7.3 billion to Washington schools

June 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – In the final hours before a state government shutdown, the Legislature passed a landmark bill that adds billions of dollars to public schools in Washington state over the next four years. Passage of this bill addresses the chronic underfunding of schools called out in the state Supreme Court’s McCleary case.

“This budget makes the biggest investment in education in a generation and reflects the core values that Democrats have advocated for throughout this process,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, one of the education negotiators who also serves as a negotiator on the state operating budget. “It ensures more equity between low- and high-income districts and students and provides additional funds for students with individual needs. Of course no budget is perfect, and the reliance primarily on property taxes for funding was not what Democrats wanted but unfortunately was all the Republicans would consider. In the end, kids and educators will see $7.3 billion more dollars going into their schools over the next four years, and that is an enormous win for the students of our state.”

House Bill 2242 takes numerous steps toward closing the opportunity gap including increasing salaries and salary equity for educators, providing additional funding for special education and for low-income districts. The bill also increases funds for career and technical education and ensures locals may retain control of their levies while also adding common sense transparency and accountability measures to how levies are spent.

“This has been a long process but in the end we were able to come together in a bipartisan way and produce a K-12 funding solution that will meet our Constitutional obligation and help the 1.1 million schoolchildren in our state to achieve their fullest potential,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “Education in general, and this plan in particular, goes well beyond just helping individual children. When we get education policy and funding right, we boost our economy, build community, and strengthen our democracy by producing well rounded, intelligent citizens.”

The bill passed with bipartisan support out of both chambers of the Legislature (67-26 out of the House of Representatives, and 32-17 out of the Senate). The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

To view a summary of impacts of the bill, please click here.
To review estimated school district tax impacts of the bill, please click here.

19 06, 2017

State Senate Members of Color Caucus statement on Juneteenth

June 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA — Senate Members of Color Caucus released the following statement as the Legislature celebrates Juneteenth, a holiday marking the day the slaves of Galveston, Texas finally received word of their freedom nearly two years after President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War.

“Today’s historic anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity that enriches Washington state and the nation as a whole.

“Juneteenth is traditionally a celebration, but we should also use the occasion to focus on today’s challenges that communities of color continue to face in the pursuit of equality and justice.

“As our nation struggles to find political common ground, Juneteenth is a chance to reaffirm our shared dedication to ending discrimination and senseless violence that is still perpetuated against African Americans and people in our communities of color.”

Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle)
Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens)
Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip)
Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle)

29 03, 2017

A closer look at the Senate Republican tax proposal

March 29th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Last week Senate Republicans passed their budget proposal on a straight party line vote. The Republican plan eliminates local school levies and imposes a $5.6 billion, statewide property tax. Currently, our existing local property tax funds can be spent only in the school districts of the voters who approved them and only on education. The Republicans’ statewide property tax funds, by contrast, can be used for education (or for any other use, for that matter) anywhere in the state. This isn’t an education plan so much as a property tax plan by another name.

The tax shift has expensive consequences for many of our communities. By 2021, homeowners across the state would pay hundreds more per year in property taxes while receiving extremely modest increases in education funding, or in some cases fewer resources than they currently receive. That’s not good for our students’ education and it’s not fair to homeowners.

Below are examples of tax increases throughout the state under the Senate Republican K-12 plan, Senate Bills 5607 and 5875. They reflect two options – one if taxpayers vote to approve levy capacity at the 10 percent limit and another if voters reject 10 percent levy capacity. As you will see there are tax increases associated with both choices. Click here to view the impacts for all districts and view data we used to create the maps.

28 02, 2017

Senate Democrats to hold town hall meetings in March

February 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Legislators will be holding town hall meetings with constituents across the state in March. Town hall meetings are chance for community members to meet with their state leaders, ask questions, and get an update on the 2017 legislative session.

SATURDAY, MARCH 11

3rd District – Sen. Andy Billig with Rep. Marcus Riccelli & Rep. Timm Ormsby
WHERE: Washington Cracker Company Building 304 W. Pacific, Spokane WHEN: 9:30 am – 11:00 am

21st District – Sen. Marco Liias with Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self & Rep. Strom Peterson
WHERE: Meadowdale High School Great Hall, 6002 168th Street SW, Lynnwood WHEN: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

22nd District – Sen. Sam Hunt with Rep. Beth Doglio & Rep. Laurie Dolan
WHERE: South Puget Sound Community College, Lacey Campus WHEN: 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

23rd District – Sen. Christine Rolfes with Rep. Sherry Appleton & Rep. Drew Hansen
WHERE: Kitsap Fairgrounds, Eagle’s Nest 1200 NW Fairgrounds Rd, Bremerton WHEN: 9:30 am – 11:00 am
WHERE: Bainbridge Island City Hall, Council Chambers 280 Madison Ave N, Bainbridge Island WHEN: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

27th District – Sen. Jeannie Darneille with Rep. Laurie Jinkins & Rep. Jake Fey
WHERE: The Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus, 1210 6th Ave WHEN: 10:00 a.m. – noon

29th District – Sen. Steve Conway
WHERE: Bates Technical College, South Campus Cafeteria, 2201 South 78th St., Tacoma WHEN: 10 am – noon

36th District – Sen. Reuven Carlyle with Rep. Noel Frame & Rep. Gael Tarleton
WHERE: Leif Erikson Lodge 2245 NW 57th St, Seattle WHEN: 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

43rd District – Sen. Jamie Pedersen with Rep. Frank Chopp & Rep. Nicole Macri
WHERE: Seattle First Baptist Church 1111 Harvard Ave, Seattle WHEN: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

48th District – Sen. Patty Kuderer
WHERE: Redmond City Council Chambers WHEN: 10:30 am – noon

SUNDAY, MARCH 12

1st District – Sen. Guy Palumbo with Rep. Derek Stanford & Rep. Shelley Kloba
WHERE: Cascadia College, Bothell WHEN: 2:30 pm

SATURDAY, MARCH 18

11th District – Sen. Bob Hasegawa
WHERE: Office of Emergency Management – Renton WHEN: 10:30 am – noon

32nd District – Sen. Maralyn Chase
WHERE: Mountlake Terrace Senior Center, 23000 Lakeview Drive WHEN: Mountlake Terrace 10:00 a.m. – noon
WHERE: Lynnwood Fire Department, 18800 44th Ave W WHEN:  Lynnwood 1:30 -3:30 p.m.

33rd District – Sen. Karen Keiser with Rep. Tina Orwall & Rep. Mia Gregerson
WHERE: Kent City Hall Council Chambers, 220 4th Ave S, Kent WHEN: 10:00 am – noon

37th District – Sen. Rebecca Saldaña
WHERE: Rainier Beach Community Center Gym WHEN: 10:00 am – noon

41st District – Sen. Lisa Wellman with Rep. Tana Senn & Rep. Judy Clibborn
WHERE: Somerset Elementary WHEN: 10:00 am – 12:30 pm