(360) 786-7608|mark.mullet@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: April 2019

E News – 2019 Legislative Update

April 19th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

We’re entering the final stretch of the legislative session, as the Senate and the House finish negotiating operating, transportation and capital construction budgets for the next two years and wrap up remaining business. I’ll be providing a summary of the finalized budgets in the coming weeks, but for now I wanted to highlight some of the great bills that we’ve passed this session.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Inslee signed into law House Bill 1074, which raises the legal age to buy tobacco and vapor products to 21. The vast majority of daily smokers started smoking as a teen. But people who don’t start by age 21 are unlikely to ever do so, so the bill could potentially save thousands of lives.

Last week, the House passed Senate Bill 5116, requiring all electric utilities in Washington to move to a 100-percent, carbon-neutral electricity supply by 2030 and to 100-percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. The bill would make Washington one of the first states in the nation to commit broadly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity while adopting a precise action plan to do so.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed House Bill 1196 to put Washington on Daylight Saving Time year-round, once Congress passes a law letting states do so. Californians voted to show their preference to end the annual switch and Oregon is considering a similar measure. As we’ve seen, Daylight Saving Time doesn’t lower our energy bills, it doesn’t improve our health and it doesn’t help our farmers.

These are just a few examples – others include bills requiring prepaid postage on all ballot envelopes, protecting consumers from surprise charges for out-of-network health care, locking existing federal health care consumer protections in to state law, moving our presidential primary up to early March and giving tenants who fall behind on rent a better chance to get caught up.

As your senator, I’m proud to put the needs of our community above partisan politics and deliver good public policy. If you have any questions or comments about these bills or anything else happening in Olympia, I always encourage you to reach out to my office.

Best regards,

E News – Lifting the Local Levy Lid

April 11th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

You may have heard that teachers’ unions are criticizing me for trying to make sure that funds from local property tax levies support needed programs and services in our schools, like librarians and mental health counselors, and aren’t used to enhance teachers’ salaries paid by the state.

Senate Bill 5313 would partially lift caps on voter-approved school levies that were put in place as part of a legislative package to address the Washington Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in the McCleary case.

The court held that the state failed to adequately fund K-12 education and that this failure led school districts to over-rely on local levies to pay core operating expenses, like teachers’ salaries. Lawmakers responded in 2017 with more state funding for teachers’ salaries and, in exchange, we capped the local levies.

Since then, the teachers’ union and many school officials have demanded a change, arguing that more local money is needed for programs and services. But when I successfully pressed for an amendment to keep that money from being diverted back into boosting teachers’ salaries, the teachers’ union accused me of cutting teachers’ pay.

I strongly dispute that claim and you can read more about that in the Seattle Times and on my website.

But I wanted to reach out today to emphasize that I serve the people in our communities, not interest groups. I spend a lot of time talking to school districts, parents and others in our communities, and it’s clear that money raised locally is needed for programs and services like:

• Mental health counselors;
• More support staff, such as librarians and paraeducators;
• After-school programs for kids who need extra support; and
• Other extracurricular activities, like arts and athletic programs.

My goal is what’s good for our kids. The state took on an obligation to pay teachers’ salaries and it should do that. But it shouldn’t rely on local levies to pay teachers’ salaries – the problem that led to the McCleary lawsuit – unless that money is compensation for having done extra work.

It’s my job to find balance between endless property tax increases and what our schools need to fund the programs and services that teachers, parents and students deserve. As your senator, I’m going to support schools and kids, not interest groups, even when they happen to be the teachers’ union.

Best regards,

E News – 2019-21 State Budgets

April 4th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

It’s budget season in the capitol, when the Senate and the House negotiate on transportation, operating and capital construction budgets to fund vital projects and services across Washington in the next two years. I’m working hard to make sure that our communities benefit from the hard-earned tax dollars you send to Olympia.

Transportation Budget

Kudos are due to my new 5th Legislative District seatmates, Rep. Bill Ramos and Rep. Lisa Callan, who made sure that the House version included the initial funding to widen State Road 18 to four lanes over Tiger Mountain. As negotiations move forward, I’ll be working to keep those funds in the final version.

Operating Budget

The Senate version includes targeted support for the state’s behavioral health system, K-12 special education, higher education and the environment. I’m proud that it keeps the “We the People” civics education program at Tahoma High School funded and includes money to help the team travel to the national competition in Washington, D.C. if they win the state competition again.

I’m also pleased to note that the Senate version includes funds to help train more teachers in our schools on instructing students in financial literacy.

Capital Construction Budget

The Senate version contains investments in infrastructure to support behavioral health, affordable housing, education and other priorities. In our local communities, that includes funding to:

• Support the outdoor Snoqualmie Valley Youth Activities Center, a low- to no-cost outdoor meeting space between Snoqualmie and North Bend;

• Improve affordable, in-district health care options at the Issaquah Opportunity Center, to make sure everyone in the community has access to health care; and

• Help construct a new memorial in Maple Valley honoring our veterans and to make parking improvements at Lake Wilderness Park.

I spend every day of the Legislative Session explaining the needs of our community to my fellow elected officials and building relationships so we can bring your money back where it came from. If you ever have a question or concern, or an idea how we can do that better, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

  • Permalink Gallery

    Mullet responds to inaccurate reports on amendment to levy lid bill

Mullet responds to inaccurate reports on amendment to levy lid bill

April 4th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Teachers’ salaries would not be cut and their rights to collectively bargain would not be restricted by legislation ensuring that school districts put money from additional local levy dollars toward needed services like librarians and counselors, Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) emphasized today.

Mullet spoke out to address what he said were inaccurate reports about his amendment to Senate Bill 5313, which the Senate Ways & Means Committee adopted at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning at the end of a lengthy meeting.

The bill would partially lift restrictions on voter-approved school levies that legislators put in place in 2017 as part of a package to address the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling in the long-running McCleary case that the state was failing its constitutional obligation to amply fund basic education in K-12 schools.

Lawmakers at the time responded to the court’s holding that the state’s failure led school districts to over-rely on local levies by increasing state funding for core operating expenses and capping the levies.

“The McCleary decision made clear that the state is constitutionally responsible for funding basic education, including teachers’ salaries,” Mullet said. “Senate Bill 5313 is an attempt to give districts that feel they need more money to adjust to this new system more access to local levy dollars. But we need to make sure local levy dollars are used to support staff, like librarians and nurses and counselors, and that we don’t go back to relying on local funds to pay teachers’ salaries, which would land us right back in court.”

Mullet’s amendment ensures that additional money from local levies would have to go to education programs and support services, but Mullet said under no circumstances would any teacher receive a pay cut. The amendment does allow local funds to go toward salary increases for extra work – like coaching athletes or leading extracurricular programs – or to compensate teachers for obtaining professional certification.

Mullet said his amendment does not limit teachers’ right to collectively bargain, but it does make clear that if local levy dollars are used to supplement the ample salary dollars provided by the state, then that supplemental money needs to be for compensation for extra work.

The amendment has drawn opposition from teachers unions, which withdrew support for the bill following the bipartisan vote adopting the amendment. But Mullet said that action demonstrated the need for the amendment.

“If the unions weren’t planning to rely on these local funds to pay teachers’ salaries – which was a huge problem in the McCleary case – why are they now trying to kill a bill that would give schools access to hundreds of millions of potential dollars to support programs and other staff?” he asked.