Rep. Brad Hawkins: 2015 session is underway – I’m here to serve you
This year's legislative session in Olympia has just begun. In an odd-numbered year like 2015, the state constitution provides 105 days for the Legislature to develop a two-year operating budget.
Education funding will be the paramount discussion following a court case called McCleary and an order from the state Supreme Court to increase funding for basic education needs statewide. I'm committed to ensuring we put education first in the budgeting process to remove the politics from our classrooms. Of course, increasing education funding also requires accountability to the taxpayers and parents who are funding it.
Another Supreme Court case will require us to increase funding for mental health programs. Mental illness affects our families and our communities. It can also be a public safety issue. I believe taking care of those with mental illness falls under those who are “most vulnerable,” and should be fully funded.
Developing the 2015-17 budget will be just one of many discussions that occur in Olympia affecting the residents of Washington. The Legislature will continue with the implementation of the voter-approved legalization of marijuana to respect the electorate but ensure public safety. The use of body cameras by local police, drones and 2nd Amendment rights may also come before the Legislature. Increasing the minimum wage, despite the fact that Washington already has the highest in the nation, may again be on the legislative agenda.
In addition, the governor has indicated he wants to continue to pass a new transportation tax package – this time funded by a carbon tax. In December, Governor Inslee proposed more than $1 billion in tax increases to fund the operating budget. I am troubled about the talk of increasing taxes especially while our state economy continues to stabilize and recover from the recession. What many don't know is that our state is expected to bring in $3 billion more with current revenue sources over the next two years. Additional revenue indicates that our economy is beginning to recover. It seems prudent for our state to live within its means and balance its budget within these increased revenues.
No matter the issue, I'll be asking lots of questions to make the most informed decisions, and I'd appreciate hearing from you on legislative matters. Please feel free to contact my office anytime by phone at (360) 786-7832, toll-free at (800) 562-6000 or by e-mail at email@example.com. I also encourage you to sign up for my periodic e-mail updates on my website at www.representativebradhawkins.com.
Thank you for allowing me the honor of representing you.
Rep. Brad Hawkins just began his second term representing the 12th Legislative District, which includes Chelan, Douglas, and parts of Grant and Okanogan counties. He lives in East Wenatchee with his wife and two sons.
122G Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7832 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000