Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Click to watch my legislative update:
As I mentioned last week, I have been assigned to three policy committees as part of my legislative duties:
- The Capital Budget Committee which approves money for the construction and repair of public buildings;
- The Business and Financial Services Committee which considers licensing and business regulations; and
- The Education Committee which considers issues related to K-12 education.
I plan to highlight each of these committees in depth in the coming weeks. First I want to focus on the Education Committee. I'm proud to have received an appointment to the House Education Committee. This is the first time since 1978 that state representative from our district has served on this committee.
One of the primary reasons I decided to run to be your Representative was because I believe Washington children deserve an outstanding education – and that it's a core service of state government. As a former school board president, parent of young children, and now your legislator, my duty is to make sure our schools are the best they can be. The Washington State Constitution says that education in our paramount duty and a recent Supreme Court decision has directed the legislature to fund education more. To me, this means that we need to maximize existing tax dollars to provide the best possible education to our children.
This is why I am co-sponsoring a House Bill 1174 to prioritize spending so that education is funded first in the budget process before other state appropriations are made. This solution is the “Fund Education First” bill.
The 2013-2015 budget would:
- Fully fund all-day kindergarten across the state
- Provide ½ of the funding enhancements to improve K-3 class sizes
The 2015-2017 budget would:
- Fund the remaining K-3 class-size enhancements
- Provide funding for an additional 80 instructional hours for grades 7-12
- Fund some materials, supplies and operating costs
The 2017-2019 budget would:
- Make the remaining class-size enhancements, including additional pupil-transportation funding
Fund education first would fully fund provisions of House Bill 2261 and House Bill 2776, beginning in fiscal year 2014 and completing in fiscal year 2019.
In the current two-year budget cycle, for example, 44 percent of the operating budget is dedicated to K-12 education. Under the Fund Education First bill, this number would rise to 51 percent in the 2017-19.
If our “Fund Education First” legislation is approved, it would send a message that education is our top priority in Washington state and our paramount duty. It will ensure that education receives the first dollar in the state budgeting process rather than our last dime.
Our state actually has the money to meet our educational needs – it's just a matter of how lawmakers choose to prioritize spending. I say, let's focus on the state's core services – and that starts with education. Our state constitution says it, our state Supreme Court has said it, now let's do it – without raising your taxes.
As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th district state representative.
122G Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7832 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000