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State bank feasibility to be studied at state level

July 3rd, 2017|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 3, 2017

OLYMPIA – A proviso that was included in the state operating budget and was proposed by Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, funds an interim task force to look at creating a publicly-owned state bank, and make recommendations for the 2018 Legislature to take action on.

“With the state bank, we would keep our tax dollars in Washington and working for the people of Washington, not Wall Street,” Hasegawa said. “A state bank could provide huge financing capacity to fund critical infrastructure like clean water systems, schools and roads, without having to sell bonds through Wall Street brokers. We simply don’t have enough money to keep going into debt to Wall Street to fund the infrastructure that every Washingtonian relies on.”

The Legislature passed a $43.7 billion operating budget late Friday night, appropriating $75,000 for the state bank task force. Hasegawa has been the Legislature’s champion on the issue of a state bank for years, introducing numerous pieces of legislation, most recently Senate Bill 5464.

The task force will examine the financial needs of local governments necessary for constructing public infrastructure, as well as the feasibility of creating a publicly-owned bank, among other objectives. They will provide draft legislation based on their findings to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2017 for consideration in the 2018 legislative session.

The task force will consist of members of the Legislature from both chambers and parties, members of the public with relevant experience and representatives from certain financial institutions, state agencies and other branches of government.

“A state bank would generate much needed new revenue for the people of our state without raising taxes,” Hasegawa added. “No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, a state bank would be a win for Washingtonians. It allows us to invest our tax revenues in Washington state, not Wall Street.”

To read the proviso click here and go to Section 123.

 

 

Legislative Update: Budget passes just before shutdown

July 1st, 2017|

Hasegawa banner 2017

Budget passes just before shutdown

Budget

With only hours to go before the deadline, a state budget passed the Legislature and was sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature – narrowly avoiding a government shutdown.

Unfortunately, I had to vote no on the budget because it relied almost entirely on a regressive property tax increase that would have hit the 11th Legislative District especially hard. Balancing our state responsibilities on the backs of middle- and low-income families and individuals who already pay more than their fair share is simply not good enough.

I am grateful to my colleagues who fought to include essential investments for our mental health system, homelessness assistance, implementation of the Clean Air Rule and the collective bargaining agreements for public employees. It also makes significant investments into our K-12 system, however it doesn’t really address the state Supreme Court’s requirement in the McCleary ruling that the basic education funding come from the state is sustainable and reliable. The new money from property taxes is capped for four years and then subject to growth limitations, which will put us in the same situation in four years that we’re trying to resolve now.

Hasegawa ENews Feb

One bit of good news is that I was able to get a budget proviso for the state to convene an interim task force to look at creating a publicly owned state bank. As you probably know, I’ve been working on this issue for several years now and the concept is really starting to gain traction. With the state bank, we would keep our tax dollars in Washington State, working for Washington State and not send it to Wall Street for them to use to make profit for themselves. It would provide huge financing capacity to fund critical infrastructure without having to sell bonds through Wall Street brokers. We simply don’t have enough money to keep going into debt to Wall Street to fund critical infrastructure.  The added bonus is that it would generate much needed new revenue for the people of our state without raising taxes. It’s a win-win. For more information on that effort, please click here.

As I write this, negotiators are still working on the Capital Budget. At last check, a number of 11th district projects were funded, including for the City of Renton’s No. 1 priority, Sunset Park, and a study to look at the efficacy of electrifying our rail infrastructure. This project is known as Solutionary Rail and can help reduce a major source of carbon emissions. The budget, SHB 1075, passed out of the House early Saturday morning with a vote of 92-1. It is now up to the Senate Republicans to allow the bill a vote.

Despite the positive elements in the budget, I simply could not vote for a property tax increase that isn’t fair or sustainable. The Legislature also just passed a full set of new tax exemptions totaling almost $100 Million, including extending the Boeing B&O tax break to all manufacturers. This is another shift of tax burden from corporations onto the backs of working families.

We only had a few minutes in Ways and Means to review the full budget comprised of 680 pages across 3 books before we voted on it – and only a few hours before voting it off the Senate floor. I encourage you to look at the documents by clicking here.

Thank you for being an engaged constituent. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your thoughts regarding Legislative issues.

Respectfully,

Hasegawa signature

Hasegawa in Senate Wings

Contact Me

Phone: (360) 786-7616

Email: Bob.Hasegawa@leg.wa.gov

Website: www.sdc.wastateleg.org/Hasegawa

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    Legislative Update: The regular 2017 session is nearing an end

Legislative Update: The regular 2017 session is nearing an end

April 18th, 2017|

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April 18, 2017

Dear Neighbors,Hasegawa in committee

The regular 2017 legislative session ends on Sunday, and although we have operating budget proposals from the House Democrats and Senate Republicans, negotiations have stalled.

Despite multiple attempts by Democratic budget negotiators to initiate talks, Republicans are refusing to come to the table. While this is very frustrating, talks on education funding are progressing and I am hopeful the rest of the operating budget will begin making progress as well.

In this legislative update, I will share with you how different the priorities are that are laid out in the two state budgets. On the one hand, Democrats propose revenue from progressive sources that begin to right our upside-down tax system, while on the other hand Republicans make deep cuts to the social safety net and rely on a $5.6 billion statewide property tax hike to fund education that includes a levy swap proposal that would provide significant tax cuts for some major corporations and force major tax hikes in Seattle while providing less to our students.

As always, I will continue to fight for working families, progressive tax reform and social justice for our community and state.

Please contact me with any comments, concerns or questions.

Regards,

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Three State BudgetsBudget

There are three separate budgets that fund all the responsibilities of the state. They are passed on a biennial basis, or every two years, with smaller supplemental budgets passed in alternating years.

1.     Operating Budget

The operating budget is the main budget for the state, with proposals this year ranging from $43 – $46 billion. It funds everything from higher education to state agencies to the mental health care system.

I offered an amendment to the budget to appropriate funds to begin the process of studying the possibility of a state-owned bank. While the amendment received a majority vote, it still failed because of a 60-percent rule the majority Republicans invoked for amendments to the budget and so narrowly failed.

On the bright side, support for this idea increases each year – in great part due to those of you who have been speaking up. I still haven’t given up hope for us to make progress on a state bank this session as I continue this fight. To learn more about my state bank proposal, click here.

You can read the state bank amendment by clicking here, or watch my floor speech by clicking here.

To watch my floor speech on the operating budget vote, please click here.

2.     Transportation BudgetSenate cap budget projects 2017

The transportation budget funds everything from pedestrian safety, traffic improvement projects, bridge repairs, ferries and avalanche control.

Negotiations are ongoing with the House of Representatives to pass a transportation budget, and how to deal with major outstanding issues like HOV/Hot Lanes/tolls, and MVET taxes.

3.     Capital Budget

The capital budget funds a variety of building and maintenance projects throughout the state. From affordable housing grants to schools to community and arts centers and parks, the capital budget is critical to building and expanding public spaces throughout Washington state.

I teamed up with our budget negotiators and the other members of the Senate Members of Color Caucus to advocate for key projects and investments in our districts.

Key priorities include the Housing Trust Fund, Building Communities Fund Grants, Dental Capacity Grants, and hazardous/toxic material cleanup money. Specific projects include Sunset Neighborhood Park, Museum of Flight, the Multicultural Community Center, Renton Technical College and many more. I will continue to advocate for these and other 11th District projects as the final capital budget is negotiated with the House of Representatives.

I also offered an environmental and job-creating amendment to the capital budget (the only Democratic amendment accepted by the Republican majority) that studies the feasibility of electrifying our railroads, a project known as Solutionary Rail.

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Fighting for you in OlympiaHasegawa speaking 2017

Finally, I’ve been fighting for racial justice issues, speaking on the Senate floor to various issues that are otherwise swept under the carpet. These issues include legal financial obligations reform, police use of deadly force, racial impact statements for any proposed legislation, and emergency notifications in languages other than English where appropriate.

This is only a taste of the breadth of issues we’re dealing with this legislative session. As you can see there are no shortage of fronts to be fought for our community. Please know that I am here in Olympia fighting for you.

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Differences in the Budgets

Budgets are really a statement of values – what is funded and what is cut shows what each party thinks is a priority and what they don’t. As you can see from the comparisons below, there are stark differences in priorities between Democrats and Republicans in this year’s budget proposals.

D v R policies 2017 Budget updated

D v R policies 2017 budget

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Contact Me

Capitol in springPhone: (360) 786-7616

Email: Bob.Hasegawa@leg.wa.gov

Website: www.sdc.wastateleg.org/Hasegawa

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    VIDEO: Hasegawa votes ‘no’ on irresponsible Senate Republican budget

VIDEO: Hasegawa votes ‘no’ on irresponsible Senate Republican budget

April 17th, 2017|

 OLYMPIA – Sen. Bob Hasegawa speaks regarding his no vote of the Senate Republican operating budget, which makes deep cuts to the social safety net and doubles down on Washington’s upside-down tax structure.

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    VIDEO: Hasegawa offers amendment to study possibility of state bank

VIDEO: Hasegawa offers amendment to study possibility of state bank

April 3rd, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Bob Hasegawa offers an amendment to study the possibility of a publicly owned bank, or state bank, and the benefits this could bring to the state of Washington. To learn more about Hasegawa’s efforts regarding the state bank please click here or you can watch a short video about it here.

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    VIDEO: Hasegawa votes against sweeping funds for local infrastructure

VIDEO: Hasegawa votes against sweeping funds for local infrastructure

April 3rd, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Hasegawa speaks against a measure to sweep funds from the Public Works Trust Fund, used for grants to local governments for essential infrastructure including clean water and sewers.

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    VIDEO: Hasegawa advocates for progressive funding for education

VIDEO: Hasegawa advocates for progressive funding for education

April 3rd, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Bob Hasegawa makes a speech in support of progressive funding for education funding that gives relief to families in the 11th district and throughout Washington.

Hasegawa speaks on Boeing tax cuts

November 12th, 2013|

Before voting against the Legislature’s tax-cut package for The Boeing Co. on Saturday, Sen. Bob Hasegawa took to the Senate floor to articulate his skepticism over the merits of the legislation.

Sen. Hasegawa’s enewsletter update 10/16/2013

October 16th, 2013|

Dear 11th District constituents,

I’m sure you’ve been hearing plenty about the new “health care exchange” that will enable individuals and families to purchase affordable plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Here in Washington, the exchange is called “wahealthplanfinder” and it can be found at www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

Though it encountered some technical difficulties on the first couple days of operation last week, the initial bugs have been fixed and anyone who logs in can now access the healthplanfinder website quickly and easily. The healthplanfinder makes it simple for any Washington citizen who needs health insurance, and is not covered by an employer’s health plan, to shop for affordable coverage in an apples-to-apples comparison.

Beware misleading imitators

There is only one state-run healthplanfinder website, www.wahealthplanfinder.org, but a number of sites with similar sounding names have been created by companies looking to pitch potential customers directly and, in some cases, by actual scam artists hoping to steal your personal information.

For instance, users could easily confuse the real wahealthplanfinder website with close-sounding names such as www.washingtonhealthplanfinder.com or www.washingtonhealthplanfinder.org. In fact, one lookalike website even reads “Welcome to the Plan Finders” and offers a subsidy calculator. Don’t be fooled though, these websites are not run by the state and do not offer the same privacy protections. The only true state website is www.wahealthplanfinder.org. That’s org, not com; and WA is abbreviated, not spelled out as Washington. Most importantly, the federal tax credits that many people will qualify for and which will result in lower premiums are available only through www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

You can read more about some of the misleading sites here.

Meanwhile, here are some answers to commonly asked questions.

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Q: Who can purchase health care through the healthplanfinder?

A: Citizens and immigrants legally present in Washington who need health insurance, and are not covered by an employer’s health plan, can shop for affordable health coverage through the wahealthplanfinder.org. Most folks will likely qualify for premium tax credits to help offset the cost. In addition, some employees who currently pay for expensive health plans through their employers may also use the wahealthplanfinder.org to find a more affordable plan. All plans available through the healthplanfinder have been approved by the state insurance commissioner to ensure that they provide high quality and good value and meet all legal requirements.

Q: When will coverage begin?

A: Coverage will begin on Jan. 1, 2014. By enrolling sometime in the next three months, you can have everything in place well ahead of the Jan. 1 coverage date.

Q: Who will benefit from shopping through the healthplanfinder?

A: The healthplanfinder is designed for people who buy their own insurance or are currently without insurance. This includes people who work part-time and don’t qualify for benefits through their employers, or who don’t have health coverage offered from an employer, those who are self-employed, and those who have retired early and don’t yet qualify for Medicare. Individuals and families will be able to choose and compare a number of comprehensive insurance plans.

Q: I get my health insurance through the military Tricare system. What’s going to change for me because of the healthcare law?

A: Nothing. The healthcare law sets requirements for minimum coverage that satisfy the requirements for having insurance. Existing programs like Tricare, Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits, COBRA benefits or your current employer-provided health plan all satisfy the requirements for coverage.

Q: Who qualifies for help to buy insurance?

A: People with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level (a family of four with an income of $94,200, for instance) will qualify for help. The tax credits are based on a sliding scale, so those who make lower incomes receive a higher credit. The credit applies immediately when you purchase insurance – you don’t have to wait until you file your taxes. The credit is designed to make health insurance affordable for most people.

Q: I don’t think I am going to qualify for help with my premium, but I also can’t afford to buy insurance. What penalty will I face if I choose not to buy coverage?

A: The law does not require you to purchase health insurance if the premium would exceed 8 percent of your income. But you should explore your options. As of Jan. 1, 2014, Medicaid coverage will expand to citizens who earn up to about $34,000 for a family of four, or about $15,000 for an individual. It will cover most people earning minimum or near-minimum wages. Medicaid has no premiums or co-payments and provides comprehensive care.

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Q: I own a small business, with just a few employees; what will I have to do?

A: Nothing. If you don’t provide health insurance now, and you have fewer than 50 full-time employees, nothing needs to change. But your employees will become eligible to purchase individual health care at wahealthplanfinder.org and they will probably receive premium assistance to help cover the cost of the premium.

Q: My premium right now through my employer is very expensive, and I am hoping that I can find a better deal through the healthplanfinder. Will I be able to purchase coverage through the healthplanfinder?

A: If your current premium costs more than 9.5 percent of your household income, you will be able to purchase insurance at wahealthplanfinder.org and you may qualify for a premium tax credit. If your employer plan is very skimpy and only pays about 60 percent of the cost, you may also qualify for help through the wahealthplanfinder.org.

Q: I heard that benefits will be cut for Medicare under ObamaCare; is that true?

A: No, that is false. Unfortunately, some opponents of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called ObamaCare, have gone out of their way to distort the facts and try to frighten people about changes in health care coverage and costs. All indications are that costs will be lower, and benefits will be broader. For example, co-pays for more than 60 preventative screenings, tests and immunizations are eliminated under ObamaCare. All the plans must cover 10 essential benefits, including prescription drug coverage. Most “cut rate” plans have few benefits fully covered. ObamaCare plans are comprehensive, and you choose the premiums and co-pays that fit your budget.

Q: I do not have internet access, and everything I see about enrollment so far directs me to websites. How can I enroll?

A: Washington’s health care exchange is developing a statewide in-person assistance network to provide in-person support for those who need additional assistance enrolling through wahealthplanfinder.org. You can learn more about the network by calling 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633) or TTY/TDD 1-855-627-9604. Many community organizations are also sponsoring in-person enrollment events at local institutions; check your community calendars for an event near you.

I hope you found this information helpful. I’ll be in touch again soon with another update.

Best wishes,

Bob

Hasegawa: Basic education still not fully funded

July 3rd, 2013|

One of my keener disappointments in the final days of the 2013 Legislature was the failure to fully and permanently fund basic education as required by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling.

Rather than create a permanent revenue stream by closing some senseless tax loopholes, the Republican majority in the Senate insisted on employing temporary accounting gimmicks that don’t even fully fund education for the next biennium. Though the Republicans will tell you differently, the math is spelled out pretty simply in a recent public statement by state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn.

Among other things, Superintendent Dorn points out that the budget’s $955 million increase in education funds is only about two-thirds of the $1.4 billion that is actually needed to fully fund education for the biennium. What’s more, the budget once again punted on funding voter-approved initiatives to lower class sizes and increase teacher pay; if Republicans had honored the will of the people and covered those expenses, that cost would have reduced the overall increase in funds available to satisfy the McCleary requirements to just $500 million. In other words, the teachers themselves are self-funding a large portion of the additional money we’re putting into basic education.

Another budget gimmick used was to divert $277 million from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA), which goes to funding needed basic infrastructure like water, sewer, roads maintenance and the like. The Legislature also diverted future funding streams for the PWAA for six years. Infrastructure support is already underfunded — now we are drastically underfunding and placing public health in jeopardy, not to mention all the lost jobs from these diversions.

We have five more years to provide full state funding for education but we are about $7 billion short. So don’t let anyone tell you that the state has fully funded basic education. This year’s budget was just a down payment.

I highly recommend reading Superintendent Dorn’s full statement, which you can find here.

— Bob