Monthly Archives: June 2017

Olympia Update: Legislature passes budget

June 30th, 2017|

Dear friends and neighbors,

I wanted to send a short note to update you on what’s happening in Olympia. As many of you have read, today the Legislature approved a budget that will direct state spending over the next two years and prevents a government shutdown with only hours to spare.

The implications for the more than 7 million people living in our state are broad. The legislation we passed makes fundamental changes to our state’s K-12 educational system and restructures how the state collects property taxes.

Unfortunately, most lawmakers and the public had just a few hours to consider the final package as Republicans in our state Senate employed the stall tactics of Republicans in the other Washington. While this budget makes important investments in our public schools and other key social services, I could not vote “yes” on the proposal.

When I decided to run for the state Senate last year, I promised to work hard on a solution to infuse funding into our schools as outlined in the McCleary ruling, which found the state had been shortchanging students for decades.

The plan adopted by the Legislature does make many key investments into education, including increasing salaries for beginning teachers and substantially increasing the amount of money the district can use to support career and technical classes, the Learning Assistance Program, special education, and the Highly Capable Program.

When fully implemented, every school district in the 41st District will see significant additional funding. These are all critical investments that students, teachers and education advocates have been asking lawmakers to fund for years.

In order to pay for these investments, lawmakers had a historic opportunity to address our state’s upside-down tax code that relies heavily on seniors on fixed incomes and middle- and low-income families. Instead, Senate Republicans insisted on balancing our education investments on homeowners and renters by increasing the state property tax and placing a further burden on those who have been picking up the tab for years.

For the 41st Legislative District, this will mean increases in property tax bills. While the final details are still emerging, it’s clear Mercer Island households will pay hundreds of dollars more in taxes. Homeowners in Bellevue, Sammamish and Renton will also see property tax increases.

Balancing education on the backs of homeowners is unacceptable to me, especially when there are other progressive revenue options like a tax on capital gains.

In short, this is the compromise package the Legislature had to pass, but it’s certainly not the best we can do. As we move forward, I look forward to working with our local school districts to understand exactly where this plan improves outcomes for our kids and exactly where it can be improved.

Onward!
Lisa

Senator Lisa Wellman
Lisa.Wellman@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7641

Sen. Wellman’s Olympia Update

June 7th, 2017|

Dear Friends,

We’ve flipped the calendar to June and I thought I would share a quick update with you about progress on some of the big issues we are facing in Olympia. Since the regular session ended in April, Democrats and Republicans haven’t been able to reach agreement on a budget that solves the McCleary school funding challenge. Our budget negotiators remain in Olympia, but progress has been slow as Senate Republicans have taken a “my way or the highway” approach. Read more about why it’s so important that we stand up against the GOP budget below.

I recently joined state and local officials to celebrate the beach restoration project at Lake Sammamish State Park. Great teamwork will result in a great park!

While we wait for a breakthrough on a budget deal, I’ve had the time and opportunity to meet with many of you over the past several weeks — at a ribbon cutting at Lake Sammamish’s new beach, at an inspiring meeting with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, at Gov. Inlsee’s Summit on Career Connected Learning. Suffice it to say, it has been jam-packed few weeks connecting with our community. It’s such an honor to serve you!

Education funding plans examined

As we proceed through a second special session, a lot of people don’t understand why Democrats and Republicans haven’t been able to reach agreement on a budget. In fact, the problem is twofold.

The respective budgets proposed by House Democrats and Senate Republicans take very different approaches to taxation and education funding. It’s important for you to know how their plan would work and how their numbers add up. In comparing the Republican and the Democratic plans, the two key measures are how much your district would receive in education dollars and how much your district would pay in property taxes.

For instance, taxpayers in the Bellevue School District will see that the overall net increase in student funding is about the same under both plans: $2,563 (Republican) compared to $2,519 (Democratic). But at the same time, overall property taxes for all Bellevue homeowners under the Republican plan would be $82 million higher than under the Democratic plan.

In other words, under the Republicans’ plan, Bellevue taxpayers would pay $82 million more in property taxes overall and receive about the same per student in education funding compared to the Democrats’ plan. The results will vary from district to district – explore the map above to see the true cost and benefit of each plan at full implementation.

In the news

I encourage you to read my recent column explaining my views on my first session in Olympia. Several of my colleagues have also published their views on the current budget debate. Take a look:

I’d also encourage you to read a recent column by the Spokesman Review’s Shawn Vestal. It clearly explains the frustration many of us share.

Sharing the lessons of experience

For the last decade, I have had the opportunity to share lessons I have learned from my years as an executive with the next generation of business leaders at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. The program connects MBA students with experienced executives to help students navigate their way in the business world. Programs like these at our public universities and colleges are critical to give students a chance to see real-world application of the skills they are learning.

Increasing opportunity for the next generation

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon for the grand opening of the new Auto Complex at Renton Technical College. I had a chance to meet with RTC President Kevin McCarthy and learn about how the capital investments we make in Olympia are invaluable to the state’s workforce and economy.
The new center will allow the college to expand opportunities for students to train to work as professional auto mechanics and RTC is the only technical college in the state offering specialized training to work on Ford products. Quality professional and technical education is key to our state’s future and this project moves us forward!

Stay in touch!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me about the issues that matter to you.

Onward!
Lisa

Lisa.Wellman@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7641

COMMITTEES

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DISTRICT OFFICE

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