Monthly Archives: March 2016

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    Capital budget addresses critical needs, puts some programs on life support

Capital budget addresses critical needs, puts some programs on life support

March 30th, 2016|

Following today’s Senate vote to pass the 2016 supplemental Capital budget, Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, released the following statement:

“I am pleased that the Capital budget addresses two areas of critical need facing Washington in 2016 by providing funding to build more classrooms and to assist our state mental health services.

“We made significant investments in both of these areas that I am confident will strengthen both mental health services and education access for students in the future.

“However, I fear that by continuing to sweep money out of both the Model Toxics Control Account (MTCA) and the Public Works Trust Fund, we are leaving our state vulnerable to serious consequences if the pattern continues.

“The truth is, MTCA has been decimated as its primary revenue source is tied to the price of petroleum products which have decreased by nearly half over the last 24 months. I believe we need to restore stability to the MTCA revenue stream and we must establish predictability for the management of these complex, multi-year environmental cleanup projects.

“Perhaps even worse is that the funding for one of our most successful infrastructure loan programs over the last 30 years has been taken away by the Operating budget makers and used for other programs that have nothing to do with fixing our local systems.  The Public Works Trust Fund is now an empty bucket when the need for such a program is growing tremendously.

“We have failing sewer systems that leak e-coli bacteria, water systems that have to issue orders to boil water before consumption and shutdown local businesses and restaurants for days at a time.

“Although I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made this session, I am eager to continue the work necessary to restore these programs to their full capacity. Capital investments make our communities stronger and I thank my colleagues for their continued efforts as we move forward.”


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    Children, environment, mental-health treatment win in sensible supplement to state’s capital budget

Children, environment, mental-health treatment win in sensible supplement to state’s capital budget

March 30th, 2016|

Today the Senate agreed with the House of Representatives and approved an update to the state capital budget that will provide funding for new classrooms, mental-health support and environmental cleanup, all without tapping the state’s rainy-day fund. The bipartisan measure was endorsed with a vote of 38-5.

“This past year lawmakers made significant progress on class-size reductions for our state’s youngest learners. Today my colleagues and I agreed to invest an additional $34.5 million toward building more classrooms so that progress can become reality,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford, capital-budget chair.

In addition to funding for construction of classrooms, $5.5 million is provided for the Department of Enterprise Services to purchase modular classrooms for five school districts to further support K-3 class-size reductions. The modular buildings will be constructed of cross-laminated lumber as part of a pilot program encouraging the use of local mass-timber products.

“Supporting mental-health treatment by improving care at our state hospitals and providing more community-based treatment beds for our most vulnerable citizens was important to legislators as we worked through this supplemental budget. We agreed on a plan that does both,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, Democratic capital-budget leader.

The Department of Social and Health Services is slated to receive $7.9 million for institution-based mental-health facilities, including a new ward at Western State Hospital in Pierce County. Another $7.5 million is directed to both urban and rural communities to develop facilities to assist patients as they transition from state hospitals.

“This budget prioritized a number of critical toxic-cleanup projects that were on the verge of being shelved because declining oil prices had reduced revenue in the Model Toxic Control Act account. Now these projects will be able to move forward with stable funding,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

The Department of Ecology’s Centennial Clean Water program will receive $2.5 million for grants that allow communities to plan, design, acquire and construct water pollution-control facilities.

“I am encouraged by the progress all parties involved were able to make as we came to agreement for this year’s capital budget,” said Keiser, D-Kent. “Although much work remains to be done moving forward, especially relating to major funding gaps for public infrastructure, this budget creates common ground as we look ahead to 2017.”

The measure, House Bill 2380, is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.

L&I citation finally gives victory to SeaTac workers

March 30th, 2016|

A citation issued to Hertz Transportation for failure to comply with SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is a victory for workers at airport-related companies in SeaTac, says Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, who issued the following statement.   

“We have patiently awaited the outcome of L&I’s investigation and I am very happy with the decision guided by L&I Director Joel Sacks to side with the workers and the will of the voters in SeaTac. When a business deliberately violates any law, corrective action and compensation for those impacted must be enforced.

“That compliance will be enforced and that the worker will receive the hard-earned back wages to which they are entitled is a credit to the process and sets a significant precedent. I look forward to other wage complaints being upheld and urge SeaTac airport-related businesses to avoid further delay. With more than two years of failure to pay back wages, the bill for those obligations will only increase with every passing day.

“Thanks are also owed to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for the work of his office providing guidance and assistance to L&I as they sought resolution to this issue.

“Although this is the first L&I citation given out in response to an employee-filed complaint, this decision has broken ground for quick resolution to the remaining complaints filed against other SeaTac businesses.

“I will continue working with our state agencies to encourage prompt action as this major dispute over the implementation of Proposition One is finally settled for the hundreds of workers at SeaTac airport-related businesses.“