The 2016 session is here and I’m eager for the work ahead in my new role as the chair of the House Finance Committee.
As you may be aware, this committee considers issues relating to state and local revenues, such as increases or decreases in taxes, tax exemptions and tax accountability. I’m looking forward to working with my fellow committee members to pass policies that help fix our broken tax system and fund our most important priorities, as well as continuing the movement towards greater accountability for the recipients of state tax breaks.
Education funding update
Since the end of the 2015 session, I have been working with members of the bipartisan, bicameral McCleary Workgroup to create a plan that adequately funds basic education. Our discussions were productive and resulted in multiple bills that have received support from both sides of the aisle. We still have work to do, but I believe these bills pave the way to fulfilling our obligation.
Companion bills HB 2366 & SB 6195 outline the next steps for addressing K-12 funding reforms.
HB 2698 delays implementation of revisions to the school levy lid because the system of state and local funding for school districts is in transition during 2016.
HB 2360 would eliminate the quality education council (QEC).
The Supreme Court has been clear — we need a plan to fully fund education. Through HB 2366, we have a plan. So far the House has hit every goal we’ve set for ourselves, and we will continue to do so as we lead the way towards fully funding a quality education for all Washington kids.
The Civil Rights Battle in 2016
Monday our nation celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
But just remembering him isn’t what Dr. King would want us to do. Instead of talking about the past, he’d want us to continue the fight for equality and justice.
All students have a right to an education. Yet 60 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, our kids are not receiving an equal education.
This excellent article from the Seattle Times highlights one of the many structural problems involving racial disparity within our public education system. Black students and Hispanic students are far more likely to be disciplined than white students.
Unequal discipline practices within our public schools are just one of several problems contributing to inequality in education in Washington state.
The House of Representatives will consider, again, legislation to fix these problems and close the educational opportunity gap. We’ve passed this bill over to the Senate – twice – where it died.
This is the civil rights fight of today’s generation. We must close the educational opportunity gap.
The best economy in the nation? It’s the state we call home
A few days ago Business Insider ranked the economies of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Washington earned the highest marks.
The results were the outcome of seven measures: November 2015 unemployment rate; 2014 GDP per capita; November 2015 average weekly wages; growth rates for nonfarm payroll jobs from November 2014 to November 2015; quarterly GDP rates; house prices from 2014 to 2015; and wages over 2014-2015.
This is what the publication says makes Washington the best economy in the nation:
“Washington state scored extremely well on most of our metrics. Its Q2 2015 annualized GDP growth rate was a stunning 8.0%, by far the highest among the states and DC. The November 2015 average weekly wage of $1,073 was the second highest in the country, and was 5.6% higher than the weekly wage in November 2014, the third highest wage growth rate.”
So if you hear some politicians telling you our state’s economy is stagnant — or that only some regions are succeeding — they’re painting a false picture of the state of our state. One Washington, one economy — and a great one at that.
To see how other states fared, click here.