Monthly Archives: June 2015

Statement on operating budget vote

June 29th, 2015|

“We made progress on some parts of McCleary, as expressed in the investments in all day K, lower class sizes in grades K-3 and basic maintenance and supplies to our districts. We funded the educator COLA, finally, and gave our public workers a much deserved raise as well. But we should have done more than this – much more.

“In the legislature’s report last year to the Court, we stated: ‘2015 is the next and most critical year for the Legislature to reach the grand agreement needed to meet the state’s Article IX duty,’ and The upcoming biennial budget developed in the 2015 legislative session must address how the targets will be met. Then, in its order holding the legislature in contempt of court, the Supreme Court specifically instructed the legislature to prepare a plan for how we’ll implement the remaining elements of fully funding basic education. This included salary and levy reform to increase educator salaries and having the state pick up more of the burden. The legislature has passed no such plan despite seeing some encouraging proposals this year. Throughout the session, I also heard loud and clear that the class size reductions in grades 4-12 passed by the voters are needed, as are the additional counselors, nurses and social workers provided under the new law. My own observations and experience this year have also told me so. Unfortunately, the legislature failed to make progress on that issue. 

 “This is my fifth year in the legislature. I have voted for every compromise final operating budget. I am not averse to compromise and certainly understand that it is the heart of the legislative process. As with any budget there are positives and negatives in it. I like and support the tuition reduction policy. I like the funding of medical residencies. I like the protection of the UW Medical School funding. I like the mental health funding additions, required by court order. I like funding of developmental disability and autism screening for young children, a policy I have been advocating for many years.

“But in the end, the budget before us, necessary as it is, does not fully meet the test of what needed to happen on all parts of our constitutionally required education investments. We need structural tax reform in this state. I suspect that the debate over education funding and tax reform will not be over as our McCleary investments are evaluated by the Court in the coming weeks.”

Frockt on King v Burwell Supreme Court decision

June 25th, 2015|

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle and ranking member of the Senate Health Care Committee, offered this statement after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell:

“I’m glad to see the Affordable Care Act upheld as the law of the land. Here in Washington, we’ve led the nation in health care reform — and you can see it in our results. More than 700,000 Washingtonians have health care through the exchange and expanded Medicaid, many for the first time in their lives, and our uninsured rate has dropped by 40 percent. We’ve expanded consumer choice by doubling the number of health plan choices available in the individual market and in 2015 we’re setting a record for the lowest average premium rate increase at just 2 percent. Because of the Affordable Care Act, more Washingtonians are in better health and we’re saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

“We still have work to do. The Senate, on a party line basis, passed SB 6089 earlier this year which would have the effect of pulling $29 million out of the exchange budget. The premium tax proposed by the Republicans to make up the difference would raise prices for the average insurance customer by $144 a year. We need to be doing everything we can to make sure the Health Benefit Exchange is working as effectively and efficiently as possible, but our goal should be to reform and strengthen the exchange, not undermine it. At a time when too many families are still having trouble making ends meet, that kind of regressive tax hike doesn’t make sense and won’t make anyone healthier. The Affordable Care Act is working, it is the law of the land, and we here at the state level need to be committed to the continued success of the exchange and to better health outcomes and more affordable health care for every Washingtonian.

“In my opinion, health care should be considered a human right in this country. I have heard the stories dozens of times in the last five years about how the expansion of health care for Washingtonians has impacted lives dramatically for the better. We should be working at all levels to improve our system in pragmatic ways and not undermine it on ideological grounds.”