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27 02, 2020

Senate passes budget focused on homelessness, working families

February 27th, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – The 2020 supplemental operating budget (SB 6168) passed today by the Senate directs an additional $115 million to critical investments to address the state’s homelessness crisis.

The Senate proposal was approved on a 33-16 vote and includes nearly $1 billion in new spending overall, including significant increases for childcare and early learning as well as a historic investment to speed up financing and construction of the new UW Medicine Behavioral Health Teaching Facility.

“With this budget, we are able to address three of the biggest challenges our state faces — affordable housing and homelessness, behavioral health, and climate change,” said Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and chief budget writer. “This is a realistic, sustainable and responsible budget that will make a difference in people’s daily lives while also leaving the state in a historically strong fiscal position.”

The proposed budget supplements the $52.4 billion, two-year budget passed by lawmakers last year while reserving $2.9 billion in the state’s rainy day fund to guard against a downturn in the economy.

The budget also includes an additional $10 million – with flexibility built in – to support local health officials as they prepare to respond to the global coronavirus outbreak.

“We have strengthened funding for foundational public health over the last several years, and we build in flexibility to ensure our health departments have the resources they need to respond to any public health threat,” Rolfes said.

Other highlights of the budget include additional funding for K-12 special education programs, election security, rural health clinics, and nursing homes.

Highlights of the 2020 Supplemental Budget Proposal

The Senate proposal invests $315 million in one-time revenue projected in the February forecast, including:

  • $115 million to address homelessness by increasing shelter capacity and keeping vulnerable families housed.
  • $100 million to address the climate crisis by investing in communities and projects to enhance mitigation and resiliency.
  • $100 million toward a new UW Behavioral Health Hospital, which lawmakers approved in 2019 to address a workforce shortage and a lack of adequate beds for patients.

Several other funding increases include:

  • $128 million in K-12 education dollars for local levy assistance ($46M), special education ($21M), pupil transportation ($41M), paraeducator training ($12M), and other increases.
  • $184 million in health care dollars for managed care ($61M), primary care physician rate increases ($10M), rural health clinics ($34M), family planning ($8M), and other increases.
  • $116 million to the state Dept. of Children and Families to reduce childcare rates for working families ($27M), strengthen the foster care system ($20M), expand early learning programs ($5M), and other increases.

Other budget items of note include:

  • $33.7 million to support struggling nursing homes by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates.
  • $20 million for wildfire suppression and prevention.
  • $10 million for enhanced election technology and security.
  • $10 million to cover the costs associated with the coronavirus outbreak, including a dedicated call center, monitoring, and support for local health jurisdictions.

Click here to find budget documents and summaries.

About the Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections to the two-year budgets passed in odd years. It gives the state the opportunity to adjust spending to keep families safe, provide high-quality education, and address other emergent needs like mental health care.

24 02, 2020

Senate budget proposal targets homelessness, early learning and childcare, climate resiliency

February 24th, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats today unveiled their 2020 supplemental operating budget, proposing to invest an additional $115 million this year to directly address the state’s homelessness crisis.

“This is a realistic, sustainable and responsible budget that will make a difference in people’s daily lives,” said Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and chief budget writer. “Our economy remains strong and our state’s bond rating is at historic highs, but we also recognize the growing needs of our growing state.

“I’m proud this budget makes targeted investments without any new taxes. It’s a budget that reflects the values of our great state by promoting strong families, healthy communities, and an economy that works for everyone across the state.”

The Senate proposal includes nearly $1 billion in new spending, including significant increases in funding for childcare and early learning as well as a historic investment to address climate change impacts across the state. The proposed investments will strengthen the $52.4 billion, two-year budget passed by lawmakers last year while reserving a total of $2.9 billion in the state rainy day fund to guard against a downturn in the economy.

“This is a smart budget that will make critical investments while leaving our state’s finances on solid footing when we return next January to write the next biennial budget,” Rolfes said. “I look forward to passing our budget off the Senate floor later this week and working with my colleagues in the House to deliver a strong, balanced budget to the governor and finish the people’s work on time.”

Highlights of the 2020 Supplemental Budget Proposal

The Senate proposal uses $315 million in one-time revenue received in the February forecast to invest:

  • $115 million to address homelessness by increasing shelter capacity and keeping vulnerable families housed.
  • $100 million to address the climate crisis by investing in communities and projects to enhance mitigation and resiliency.
  • $100 million toward a new UW Behavioral Health Hospital, which lawmakers approved in 2019 to address a workforce shortage and a lack of adequate beds for patients.

The Senate proposal makes several other funding increases:

  • $128 million in K-12 education spending for local levy assistance ($46M), special education ($21M), pupil transportation ($41M), paraeducator training ($12M), and other increases.
  • $184 million in health care spending for managed care ($61M), primary care physician rate increases ($10M), rural health clinics ($34M), family planning ($8M), and other increases.
  • $116 million to the state Dept. of Children and Families to reduce childcare rates for working families ($27M), strengthen the foster care system ($20M), expand early learning programs ($5M), and other increases.

Other budget items of note include:

  • $33.7 million to support struggling nursing homes by increasing Medicaid rates.
  • $20 million for wildfire suppression and prevention.
  • $10 million for enhanced election technology and security.
  • $5 million to cover the costs associated with the coronavirus outbreak, including dedicated call center, monitoring, and support for local health jurisdictions.

Click here to find budget LEAP documents and summaries.

About the Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections to the two-year budget passed in odd years. It gives the state the opportunity to adjust its spending to keep families safe, provide high-quality education, and address other emergent needs like mental health care.

21 02, 2020

This Week in the Senate – Week 7: Budgets and another cutoff

February 21st, 2020|This Week in the Senate|

This week, House and Senate Democrats will unveil their supplemental operating and transportation budgets, giving the first look at what could be funded during the 2020 legislative session. The session will also hit another cutoff on Friday, with all policy bills needing to be passed out of their opposite house committees in order to stay alive.


Senator Christine Rolfes

BUDGET ROLLOUT MEDIA AVAILABILITY
Monday, Feb. 24
1:45 p.m., Senate Democratic Caucus Room

Senate Democratic Caucus leaders will give their first look at the 2020 supplemental operating budget. A public hearing on the budget will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.


Football

SPORTS BETTING
Monday, Feb. 24
10 a.m., SHR 1

The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee will hear a bill (House Bill 2638) that would legalize sports betting in tribal casinos.


Interstate 5

TRANSPORTATION BUDGET HEARING
Wednesday, Feb. 25
3:30 p.m., SHR 1

The Senate Transportation Committee will take public comment on the Senate Democratic Caucus 2020 supplemental transportation budget proposal.


Courthouse

OPEN COURTS
Tuesday, Feb. 25
10 a.m., SHR 4

The Senate Law & Justice Committee will hear a bill (House Bill 2567) designed to make courts accessible to all, regardless of immigration status


bOEING

CHANGES TO BOEING TAXATION
Wednesday, Feb. 26
3:30 p.m., SHR 4

A bill (Senate Bill 6690) that would suspend Boeing’s preferential B&O tax rate will be heard in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.


 

10 02, 2020

Upcoming Town Halls

February 10th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus and their seatmates in the House Democratic Caucus have upcoming town halls scheduled to discuss the 2020 Legislative Session, priority legislation and issues important to their districts. Find your lawmaker and their upcoming events in the list below:

1st Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 3-5 p.m. with Sen. Stanford and Reps. Duerr and Kloba at Cascadia Community College.

3rd Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10-11:30 a.m. with Sen. Billig and Reps. Riccelli and Ormsby at the Woman’s Club of Spokane ballroom (1428 W 9th Ave., Spokane).

5th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, three events with Sen. Mullet and Reps. Callan and Ramos.

  • 1st: Maple Valley
    When: 9:30-10:30 a.m.
    Where: Tahoma High School Performing Arts Center
    23499 SE Tahoma Way, Maple Valley, WA 98038
  • 2nd: North Bend
    When: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
    Where: North Bend City Hall
    920 SE Cedar Falls Way, North Bend, WA 98045
  • 3rd: Issaquah
    When: 1:30 -2:30 p.m.
    Where: Blakely Hall At Issaquah Highlands
    2550 NE Park Dr, Issaquah, WA 98029

11th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-noon with Sen. Hasegawa and Rep. Hudgins at the Teamsters Hall, Room 303 (14675 Interurban Ave. S, Tukwila).

21st Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-noon with Sen. Liias, and Reps. Ortiz-Self and Peterson at Mariner High School Commons (200 120th St SW, Everett).

22nd Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 26, 6:30-8 p.m. with Sen. Hunt and Reps. Doglio and Dolan at the Twin Star Community Foundation Event Center on the SPSCC Lacey Campus (4220 6th Ave. SE, Lacey)

24th Legislative District Town Hall – TBA with Sen. Van de Wege

27th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-noon with Sen. Darneille, Speaker Jinkins and Fey at Eastside Community Center (1721 E 56th St, Tacoma).

29th Legislative District Town Hall – POSTPONED

30th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22 with Sen. Wilson at Algona Elementary School. Time TBA.

34th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 23, 3-4:30 pm, Sen. Nguyen at Elliot Bay Brewery (255 SW 152nd St, Burien).

36th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 23, 2-4:00 p.m. with Sen. Carlyle and Reps. Frame and Tarleton at the Lagunitas Taproom in the Free-Lard area (1550 NW 49th St., Seattle).

37th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 29, noon-2 p.m. with Sen. Saldaña at New Holly Gathering Hall (7054 32nd Ave. S, Seattle).

40th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 29, 10:30 a.m. – noon with Sen. Lovelett at Anacortes Educational Service District in the Reid Harbor Room (1601 R Ave, Anacortes).

41st Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m with Sen. Lisa Wellman and Reps. Tana Senn and My-Linh Thai. Bellevue College, Room N201 (3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue).

43rd Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 1:30 to 3 p.m, Sen. Pedersen, Rep. Chopp and Rep. Macri at Seattle First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard Avenue, Seattle)

44th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 9:30 a.m. with Sen. Hobbs and Reps. Lovick and Mead at Lake Stevens Senior Center (2302 Soper Hill Rd., Lake Stevens).

45th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Sen. Dhingra and Reps. Goodman and Springer at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, West Building, Room 404 (11605 132nd Ave. NE, Kirkland)

47th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 23, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. with Sen. Das at Cascade Hall (12401 SE 320th St, Auburn).

48th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m.-noon with Sen. Kuderer and Reps. Slatter and Walen at Redmond City Hall (15670 NE 85th St, Redmond).

49th Legislative District Town Hall – TBA with Sen. Cleveland.

13 01, 2020

The Everblue State: Welcome to the 2020 Session with Sen. Andy Billig

January 13th, 2020|Podcast|

The Everblue State is back for the 2020 Legislative Session with a special episode with Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig.

Billig gives us an update on what Senate Democrats are working on this year, and the issues he hopes the Legislature will tackle in the coming decade. He also takes a retrospective look at his favorite bills in the last 10 years.

As an added bonus, he answers our question about which Senate Democrat he would draft for a minor league baseball team.

Make sure to listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

13 01, 2020

Let’s get back to work in 2020!

January 13th, 2020|Uncategorized|

When Democrats took over the Senate in 2018, we got to work putting people first.

And we did it all on time.

Now the 2020 Legislative Session is here, and we’re ready to get back to work on progressive policies and bettering the lives of Washingtonians.

20 12, 2019

Statement from Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) on the independent investigation of Rep. Matt Shea

December 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|

“The investigators’ report of Rep. Matt Shea’s involvement in domestic terrorism makes it clear Rep. Shea has no place in the Washington State Legislature. The report’s conclusion is unequivocal and chilling: Rep. Shea is a ‘present and growing threat of risk to others through political violence.’

“I appreciate the expedient and responsible manner in which House leadership has proceeded related to the investigation and I agree with House Republican Leader JT Wilcox that Rep. Shea should resign. I have confidence that House leadership will continue to take the appropriate steps related to Rep. Shea.”

19 12, 2019

Statement from Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) on today’s Supreme Court ruling on public records

December 19th, 2019|Uncategorized|

“We are still reviewing the court’s decision, but as I’ve said throughout this process, I believe the Legislature should continue to take steps toward greater transparency. Long before this decision came down, we started establishing an institutional infrastructure to help respond to public records requests, store documents and take other measures to increase public access.

“We will be working with Senate administration and legislators in the coming days and weeks to ensure compliance with this decision.”

12 11, 2019

We’re Hiring!

November 12th, 2019|Uncategorized|

The Senate Democratic Caucus is hiring a communications specialist. This is a full-time position with benefits, including health, retirement and leave.

A communications specialist is an experienced communications professional who coordinates media, public and stakeholder activities for Democratic state senators. Successful candidates must be excellent writers who are able to handle multiple tasks, work well under pressure, meet tight deadlines, be proactive and thrive in a team-oriented work environment. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, public relations, communications or a related field.

Applicants should have a passion for the legislative process, excellent political and strategic judgment, and an ability to frame complex political issues into a coherent and simple message. Familiarity with the people, politics and press in the Legislature is a plus.

Find a full job description and application details here.

Interested candidates should apply by Nov. 22, 2019.

31 07, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig’s statement on election of Rep. Laurie Jinkins as Speaker-designate

July 31st, 2019|Uncategorized|

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) released this statement following the election of Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) as the Speaker-designate of the Washington State House of Representatives:

“I would like to extend congratulations to Laurie Jinkins on being elected the next House Speaker by her colleagues today.

“As an accomplished legislator and the first woman to hold the position, she will bring a vital perspective to leadership in the Washington State Legislature. I’ve enjoyed a productive working relationship with Laurie since we joined the House together in 2011. She has a long record of fighting for legislation that puts our state on the path of prosperity by creating opportunity for everybody.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the House leadership team to put people first and make Washington the best place to live, work and raise a family.”