Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ranker: Budget makes some strides forward, but not enough

March 29th, 2016|

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, issued this statement today upon the Legislature’s passage of the 2016 Operating Budget.
“You never get everything you want with a budget, but that’s the nature of compromise. While I’m disappointed we didn’t make bigger strides, particularly when it comes to making sure our schools have the funds they need, as one of four budget leads I’m pleased we were able to make some progress.
“First, we were able to make modest steps to address teacher recruitment and retention through investments in mentoring programs for new educators and increased training for paraeducators.
“Second, this budget begins to address the growing homelessness crisis in Washington state by investing in emergency residential services and beds, and providing more resources to local governments to help people who face homelessness transition into permanent housing.
“I’m also extremely proud I was able to secure $1.5 million in the capital budget to increase beds dramatically for the homeless, particularly youths, and those suffering from mental illness in Bellingham.
“Third, this budget provides resources to begin closing the educational opportunity gap for low-income students and students of color, so that all kids have an opportunity to be successful.
“Fourth, we increased critical investments in mental health services, including additional state hospital staff, mobile crisis teams and crisis triage beds.
“Last but not least, this budget provides wage increases for some of the lowest paid early learning and family child care workers.
“We negotiated hard and we made some progress, but our work is not done. When we return in 2017, we will face continued challenges in all of these areas because this budget does not do enough.
“We must do far more to address homelessness and educational funding. We need giant leaps, not baby steps, when it comes to fully funding education. We must also give all Washingtonians a safe and warm place to sleep, particularly the 35,000 homeless children on our streets.
“I was also very disappointed we were not able to address the massive, looming funding cuts that all of our schools will face due to the ‘levy cliff.’ While we were able to move a strong, bipartisan measure out of the House, we could not get it through the Senate’s Republican majority.
“We have our work cut out for us when we return in 2017. And I look forward to renewing my efforts in these areas that are so critical for so many Washingtonians.
“While some argue that a budget is not a statement of values, I believe the budget is our strongest values statement and must truly represent the priorities of all Washingtonians.
“I will never stop working to improve the lives of the people I represent. It remains an incredible honor to serve in the Washington State Senate, and I’m very much looking forward to being back in the district soon.”

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    Ranker: Sen. Hargrove is a statesman in the truest sense of the word

Ranker: Sen. Hargrove is a statesman in the truest sense of the word

March 10th, 2016|

“Today, as we recognize the 32 years of service that Sen. Hargrove has given the people of Washington in the legislature, I am saddened to know that we will lose a great advocate for those in our state who need it most.

“Sen. Hargrove has been here much longer than I have—I was in middle school when Sen. Hargrove was first elected to the legislature—but I have learned some incredible lessons from him during the five years I’ve been in the Senate, lessons that we all need to be reminded of often.

“He taught me that it’s never a good idea to burn a bridge you may need to walk over later, which is one of the reasons he has been the voice of the Senate Democrats in budget negotiations over the last few years when working across the aisle has been necessary, but not always easy.

“I learned that we need to care for one another as legislators, and care for the people we represent. Sen. Hargrove cares deeply for the people he represents, including those in our communities who need it most. He has been instrumental in passing bills for civil justice reform, welfare, and human services.

“Sen. Hargrove is a statesman in the truest sense of the word, always remaining true to his core convictions and principles, and working tirelessly to pass legislation to protect our most vulnerable, our families, and our environment. He is dear friend and he will be sadly missed.”

Ranker: Transportation budget improves area roads, ferries

March 8th, 2016|

Commuters in and around the 40th Legislative District will benefit from more than $44.2 million in improvements to area roads, ferries and ferry terminals in the transportation budget passed today by the Senate.

“Commutes will improve steadily across the region as a result of these projects,” Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said. “Everything we’re doing is designed to make it easier and safer for people to travel, whether by land or water.”

Road projects include $3.5 million to reduce collisions and improve safety along SR 20 at the Fidalgo Bay Road intersection at Sharpes Corner near Anacortes; $2 million to replace the deteriorating wood and concrete Burlington North overpass along SR 99 with a new overpass three miles north of Burlington; and $350,000 to help prevent future landslides on Mackaye Harbor Road on Lopez Island.

The Lopez, Shaw, Orcas, Friday Harbor and Anacortes terminals will benefit from more than $30.8 million for improvements and needed maintenance, while the MV Chelan, Sealth, Evergreen, Elwha, Kaleetan, Yakima and Samish ferries will see more than $23.9 million for maintenance. The budget provides another $7 million for emergency repairs for ferries and $325,000 to improve the reservation system and reduce wait times.

“This money will get ferries back into service faster when there are problems and restore maximum service to our routes,” Ranker said. “As these projects are completed, commuters should enjoy better and better service in the months and years ahead.”

In addition, the budget adds $392,000 to expand the rail terminal in Mount Vernon and $25,000 to complete freight rail improvements along the Bellingham waterfront.

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    Legislature passes Ranker bill to protect children and others in remote areas

Legislature passes Ranker bill to protect children and others in remote areas

March 3rd, 2016|

People at camps and other remote areas will gain access to epi-pens as a result of legislation passed by the House this week.

Senate Bill 6421, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, will allow the use of epi-pens at camps, parks, athletic fields and similar areas, provided staff complete training approved by the state Department of Health and the organization has a collaborative agreement with an emergency health care provider. Epi-pens, or epinephrine autoinjectors, deliver a single dose of epinephrine or adrenalin to treat allergic reactions to prevent anaphylactic shock.

“Epi-pens are available in schools and other facilities, but people who have allergic reactions need them just as critically in remote areas, if not more so, because you can be a long ways from help,” Ranker said. “This legislation fills an important gap.”

Paul Sheridan, the executive director of the Four Winds Westward Ho camp on Orcas Island, testified to the need for the bill during a hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee.

“In a remote location, this is a drug that can save lives if administered immediately,” Sheridan said. “Having it on our property increases safety for kids without introducing any substantial risks, and that’s why we contacted Sen. Ranker and asked his help.”

Since the bill had already passed the Senate and then passed the House without being amended, it now goes directly to Gov. Jay Inslee to be signed into law. It passed unanimously in the Senate and 96-1 in the House.