Monthly Archives: April 2015

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    Senate resolution honors City of Kent’s 125th anniversary, rich history

Senate resolution honors City of Kent’s 125th anniversary, rich history

April 23rd, 2015|

Senate Resolution 8671, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, Sen. Joe Fain and Sen. Bob Hasegawa, celebrated Kent’s anniversary and evolution from an agrarian community to an economic dynamo known for creating the first lunar rover, designing next-generation rockets and serving as a globally connected hub of innovation and transportation.

In the 1860s, the area was known as Titusville and become a major hops growing center. The city was incorporated as Kent in 1890, named after a region in England known for its fine hops.

“The Kent Valley is now the fourth largest manufacturing and distribution center in the United States,” said Keiser, D-Kent. “Our economic engine generates $49 billion annually, one-eighth of Washington state’s total gross domestic product.”

“Honoring Kent’s 125th anniversary really means honoring the many great people who make up the community,” said Fain, who also represents Kent. “Bringing together such a diverse community including people from many backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities and interests, has led to a unique place for many to call home.”

“Kent’s 125,000 residents represent one of the most diverse and vibrant cultures in the state, speaking 137 different languages,” said Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill. “With more than 43 percent of Kent residents speaking a primary language other than English, this is a community that stands as a testament to the increasing diversity of our wonderful state.”

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke, on hand to watch the passage of the resolution from the Senate gallery, noted the state’s sixth-largest city had come quite a way since the days it was known as the lettuce capital of the world.

“Kent has a lot to celebrate every year, but we have a significant milestone to celebrate this year: our 125th anniversary of incorporation,” she said. “The second city in King County to incorporate, we have grown from hops to aerospace and have become the sixth largest and most culturally diverse city in the state. It was an honor to accept a proclamation from Washington state Senators Karen Keiser, Joe Fain and Bob Hasegawa in recognition of May 28, 2015, Kent’s 125th birthday.”

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    Senate capital budget proposal boosts schools, jobs across state

Senate capital budget proposal boosts schools, jobs across state

April 14th, 2015|

A pair of bills passed today by the Senate would reduce classroom overcrowding and create thousands of new jobs in communities across the state.

Senate Bill 6080, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, and co-sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, would build more than 2,100 classrooms for grades K-3 over the next six years at a cost of nearly $1 billion. The plan would create more than 11,000 jobs, 4,000 in the first biennium alone.

Initial funding for the school construction plan comes from House Bill 1115, which the Senate amended to conform to the Senate’s capital budget proposal, which also passed today. The capital budget contains $280 million to launch the K-3 construction program.

“In the operating budget this year, we make a heavy investment to reduce class sizes in grades K-3, where smaller class sizes do the greatest good,” Dammeier said. “But when we reduce class sizes, we need more classrooms to put them in. This school construction program makes it possible to us to achieve our goal of reducing classes to 17 students and putting a quality teacher in every classroom.”

A key component of Dammeier’s and Keiser’s legislation is that it reforms the state’s antiquated Eisenhower-era formula for allocating classrooms to better address the needs of today’s communities.

“Under the existing formula, a school district’s poverty level is not considered,” Keiser said. “This bill for the first time includes at least a partial inclusion of free and reduced lunch rates as a part of calculating how much state construction assistance is allocated.”

At the same time, the new formula also factors in the space needed to reduce Kindergarten to 3rd grade classes to no more than 17 students to make sure the state’s money is spent where it’s needed the most.

 

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For interviews:         Sen. Bruce Dammeier, 360-786-7648                                     Sen. Karen Keiser, 360-786-7664 For information:      Erik Smith, 360-786-7037                                     Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569

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    Capital Budget funds three key parks projects in 33rd District

Capital Budget funds three key parks projects in 33rd District

April 8th, 2015|

Parks projects in Des Moines and Kent are funded in the 2015 Capital Budget proposed today by the Senate, Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, announced.

“These are investments in the outdoor recreational priorities of our citizens, today and for future generations,” said Keiser, the Democratic lead on the Senate Capital Budget. “We are blessed to live in a particularly beautiful region, and we like to make the most of it.”

In Des Moines, the budget funds a badly needed picnic shelter and restroom at Beach Park, where groups of students have been relying on a Porta Potty.

In Kent, two projects are funded. One expands the park at Van Doren’s Landing and the other funds the conversion of the Russell Road Athletic Field.

With the release of the Senate budget, Keiser and other Senate leads will begin negotiations with representatives from the House on a final budget.

“We know what we need for our communities,” Keiser said. “Now we just need to make sure they become reality.”

Beware the hidden taxes in the Republican budget

April 6th, 2015|

Today the Senate passed its operating budget, and on the surface the budget does some important things. It reduces the cost of college tuition, which is critical to students across our state, and it begins to pay some of the costs of fulfilling the state’s constitutional obligation to fully fund K-12 education.

So on the surface it looks pretty nice. But beneath that surface is a foundation that is rife with problems. This is a budget based on broken promises and broken trust.

How can anyone — whether they are negotiating a labor contract with the state, or supporting a dedicated fund in the state — put any faith or trust in a Senate that turns its back on past assurances to achieve the false promise of no new taxes?

Watch out for hidden taxes

Believe me, this budget has plenty of new taxes! They’re just hidden from public view:

  • This budget has a new tax on retirees who will face a $40 a month cut in their Medicare benefits.
  • It will mean a new tax on citizens in local water and sewer districts that will have to find a way to repay $200 million in public works assistance funds that have been swept away.
  • It has a new tax on the hospitals in our state, where the so-called bed tax had been negotiated in good faith, to be ignored for a grab of another $47 million in quality assurance fees.

No, this isn’t a no-tax budget — it’s a hide-the-tax budget. Sort of like the Easter egg hunts a lot of children enjoyed this past week. Except on this hunt, you won’t find eggs — you’ll find all kinds of new taxes you’ll have to pay.

Civil servants will probably pay the biggest hidden tax. The contracts they bargained with the state in good faith are unilaterally cast aside in this budget and replaced with a small pot of chump change.

After this, how can anyone put any faith in any agreements or past practice? With this Senate budget, it all gets swept away, ignored and discarded when it’s convenient.

Now, you might say it’s been done before, this is no big deal. Yes, dedicated accounts were swept when we were in the depths of the “Great Recession,” but that was done with the promise that when the economy regained its strength, we would restore those borrowed funds. We asked state employees to take unpaid furloughs with the assurance that when the economy improved, we would make things right.

But that promise is broken now, too.

These actions create cynicism and mistrust that is corrosive to our democracy.

This budget is built on a ‘House of Cards’ that can easily collapse overnight

To top it all off, this budget is built on magical thinking … like a veritable “House of Cards.” This budget relies on a very expensive roll of the dice; it sends Initiative 1351 back to the voters for a repeal vote. If the voters suddenly decide they actually don’t want smaller class sizes after all, we can magically balance this House of Cards budget — at least for a few months.

But what if the voters say no? What if they tell us “Hell no, do your job and lower class sizes”? Then this entire House of Cards budget will collapse overnight. And our constituents will draw the obvious conclusion that the cynicism and broken promises of that House of Cards on that TV series isn’t just another fictional story.

It’s become a real story unfolding here in Olympia’s state Senate. This isn’t your average biennial budget melodrama. This is a deal breaker for everyone who voted us into office to represent their interests.

Breaking trust, rejecting contracts, ignoring promises is corrosive to this institution and to our very democracy. That’s what this budget does.

For our part, as this budget moves through the Legislature, we Democrats will be doing our best to fix it — and replace all the hidden taxes with transparent, sustainable funding mechanisms that will spread the cost of funding education fairly instead of singling out the middle class and those who can afford it the least.