Monthly Archives: March 2014

Cleveland: ‘The Sine Die adjournment is bittersweet’

March 14th, 2014|

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, issued the following statement upon adjournment of the 2014 Washington State Legislative Session:

“The Sine Die adjournment is bittersweet. While I am pleased we were able to pass a supplemental operating budget within our 60-day session, I am disappointed that we were not able to address key issues central to the success of our communities.

“The supplemental operating budget made real investments in mental health services and did not cut away from our social safety net. This is progress. For the past five years, we have seen budgets that put the most vulnerable at further risk. This budget does not do that and passed nearly unanimously off the Senate floor.

“At the same time, the adjournment of this session effectively means the end of the Columbia River Crossing project for our community. I am extremely disappointed that we will not be replacing the antiquated bridges and infrastructure that impedes our region from being best positioned for a bright economic future. The reality is that we need a new bridge.

“I am committed to never giving up in working to meet that goal.”

 

Legislative Update – March 11, 2014

March 11th, 2014|

Dear friends and neighbors,

With three days left in the 60-day 2014 Legislative Session, activity in the halls of the Capitol has increased as legislators, lobbyists, citizens and students work to make sure their bills are passed.

Straight from the Senate floor – Bill to expand mental health access heads to governor

I’m very pleased to share with you that a bill I sponsored to expand access to mental health care in border communities has passed in the House of Representatives, as it did earlier in the Senate, and will soon head to the governor’s desk. This bill is critical to maintaining safe, healthy communities by increasing access to quality mental health care as a first step. I look forward to standing with Gov. Inslee and all the supporters of the bill when he signs it into law.

Thank you to all who participated in our telephone town hall

In order to stay in touch and hear your feedback on issues important to our community, I held a telephone town hall in February with my seatmates Rep. Jim Moeller and Rep. Sharon Wylie.

Many of the issues you brought up focused on education funding, transportation, oil train safety, the environment, jobs and the economy. We conducted a poll toyou’re your thoughts on raising the minimum wage in our state. Over 270 people on the call responded to the poll; of those respondents, over 65 percent said they would support raising the minimum wage to help lift people out of poverty.

A recent Bloomberg article titled, “Highest Minimum-Wage State Washington Beats U.S. in Job Creation” cites our state’s minimum wage example as creating jobs, not killing them when we pay our workers a more livable wage. I expect we will revisit this debate when we are back in session next year. In the meantime, I will continue to seek your thoughts and feedback on this issue in preparation for next session.

Amendment to transportation budget that would have funded the CRC fails

Last Tuesday, I proposed an amendment that would have fulfilled the promise our state made to the State of Oregon and to the federal government by funding Washington State’s portion of the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project. We have spent more than a decade, dedicated thousands of hours of work, and patiently waited for our turn to replace the antiquated I-5 bridges.

Cleveland

Unfortunately, the amendment did not pass and our community suffered a tremendous setback. To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. I understand the challenges our communities face. Replacing our nearly 100 year-old bridge would mean better safety, increased transit options and reliability. I was hopeful that we would come to a resolution after all the years of study, work and effort.

Earlier in the year, I travelled to a legislative hearing in Salem to convey the support that exists for the CRC within the Washington State Legislature. Unfortunately, it looks as though politics have won there too and our bridge project will not be completed. I am saddened by this outcome and dismayed at what this means for the future of our community. The fact remains, we need a new bridge. I will continue to focus on this goal in the years ahead.

Budgeting process moves forward

I believe that this year’s supplemental Capital Budget missed an opportunity to invest in our community and in communities across our state. Our communities need jobs and they need investments in infrastructure – but this budget fails to do either, which is why I voted against it

While I appreciate the hard work that went into the preparation of this budget, I am disappointed that it does not invest in our future. I am concerned we have stopped investing in our state and in our communities – communities that need quality, family-wage jobs. Communities like ours that continue to suffer one of the highest rates of unemployment in the entire state.

The supplemental Capital Budget traditionally invests in our districts to create these needed jobs. Given our long, slow climb out of the Great Recession, it is all the more critical that we do all we can right now to invest in infrastructure and job creation. We have an obligation to future generations to make critical infrastructure investments. This budget misses out on that opportunity.

Staying connected to you during the legislative interim

As we wrap up this session, I will be back home in our district. If you have an idea, question or comment about how we can make our community, our district and our state a better place to live, please call my office or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Cleveland

Cleveland: “We need to make good on our promises.”

March 4th, 2014|

On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, offered an amendment to the Senate Transportation budget that would have fully funded Washington state’s portion of the necessary funds to replace the antiquated bridges across I-5 to Portland. Cleveland’s amendment was not adopted. She gave the following speech on the Senate floor in support of the amendment and the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project:

“Thank you Mr. President. Well, I offer this amendment and urge your support because I feel that it is imperative that our state keep its promises. Promises to our citizens; promises to our partners- Oregon state specifically and the federal government. Promises to my community and promises to our children and future generations.

“The Columbia River Crossing is a project that we have devoted well over a decade of planning and preparation to. The CRC is a project that was laboriously studied –  and frankly still is being studied as we await yet another audit of the project – this one by JLARC that’s  due in the Spring.

“Now, Mr. President, a group of 39 stakeholders in my community unanimously agreed to the project design of the Columbia River Crossing and all decisions from then on have been based upon that collaborative compromise project.

“The federal record of decision was rendered in December 2011 on the project based on the unanimous agreement and all remaining challenges since then have been met– including obtaining a Coast Guard permit approving the height of the bridge, including waiting our turn as other important projects in our state were funded ahead of the Columbia River Crossing and reaching mitigation agreements with three upriver companies.

“All that is left, Mr. President, is to make good on our promise.

“The promise we indicated would be kept based upon all the years of good faith negotiations with our Oregon State and Federal partners.

“It has never happened that a project of the significance of the CRC advanced to this final stage in the long planning process without moving forward. Please, let’s not be the first state to make history by walking away from the incredible investment that has been made.

“If we do walk away – there are consequences. Consequences to our state in that we will be required to pay back the federal dollars we accepted over the years from the planning of this project – Some $185 million that’s been spent between our 2 states.

“Consequences to our community and region in lost economic growth and jobs –

Consequences for all areas of our trade dependent state in reduced ability to move freight and goods to market. And, consequences to our children and grandchildren for not replacing an antiquated aging piece of infrastructure.

“This amendment ensures that we make good on our promise by stepping up to meet our funding obligation for this project just as Oregon has, and continues to be willing to do. And to take advantage of returning some of our hard earned federal tax dollars to our state – $850 million dollars of federal investment.

“So, please do not let the shifting political winds keep us from our implied promise to fund this project. I urge us to do the right thing. I urge this body to support this amendment and help move our state forward with a promise kept.”