Greetings from Olympia!

With three weeks to go in the 105-day legislative session, only about 400 bills out of the over 2,800 introduced are still alive. That includes eight bills that I introduced, all of which are in the House Rules Committee or on the House floor calendar.

Most of our focus for the past two weeks has been on the budget proposals for our state’s spending over the next two years. Senate Republicans and House Democrats have now passed very different operating budgets. The Senate has also unanimously passed a bipartisan capital budget proposal.

Operating budget proposals

When the legislative session started on January 9, everyone in Olympia agreed that securing adequate funding for our public schools was the top priority. The majority parties in the two chambers have advanced two vastly different proposals. I support the House proposal and strongly oppose the Senate Republican plan. (Watch my floor speech on the Republican proposal here.) It will likely take weeks or months to reconcile the two plans, but here are a few high-level observations:

SENATE REPUBLICAN BUDGET
• Republicans balance their budget by slashing funding from programs that serve the most vulnerable in our community, including money intended to support those who face homelessness, disabled individuals, and families trying to break the cycle of poverty.
• The Republican education plan would reduce special education funding, lower teaching standards, and shortchange struggling districts by redefining what “poverty” means to reduce the number of kids who qualify for assistance.
• The Republican education funding plan would impose a new $5.6 billion statewide property tax that would penalize many communities, including Seattle, by raising our property taxes and spending most of the money to reduce property taxes in school districts with low property tax values. In a true “lose-lose” scenario for Seattle, nonpartisan analysis shows the average Seattle homeowner would pay hundreds of dollars more in property taxes while our local schools would receive a funding cut. It would dramatically limit the ability of local voters to raise additional funds to supplement basic education.

HOUSE DEMOCRATIC BUDGET:
• House Democrats would make key investments in both K-12 and higher education without making drastic cuts to the social safety net. Their budget would provide funding to modernize school facilities, provide reasonable teacher compensation, and hire more guidance counselors and parent engagement coordinators. The plan also would freeze tuition at our universities and community colleges and make important investments in the mental health care system.
• To pay for new spending, the proposal would create a new capital gains tax, imposing a 7 percent excise tax on the sale of corporate stocks, bonds and similar gains. Fewer than 2 percent of taxpayers would see an increase in taxes under the plan. It also restructures the state’s Business & Occupation Tax, shifting the burden from small business owners to the highest grossing businesses. Finally, it closes several costly tax breaks and makes progressive reforms to the real estate tax rate.

Capital budget

One of the bright spots this year has been the bipartisan agreement on the capital budget, which funds a variety of building and maintenance projects throughout the state. I was very pleased to see a large number of projects that I advocated for funded in the proposal. In particular, the capital request for Seattle Public Schools that I led for our Seattle delegation was approved in its entirety! Here are a few of the projects in our community that would receive funding in the Senate’s proposal:

Thanks for a great town hall

I want to thank everyone who attended the 43rd District Town Hall a few weeks ago. With nearly 500 people in attendance, it was the largest turnout we have ever seen. I feel fortunate to live in and represent such an engaged community.

Thank you for the privilege of representing you here in Olympia. I welcome your comments and questions anytime.

Best wishes,

Jamie

Senator Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District
Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7628