Thirteen days left in the session but who's counting?
This has been a frustrating week. The house and senate budgets are very far apart. Many good ideas and measures that make our state a better place are dead for this year. My party passed the House budget with no Republican votes, and we will be sending out measures to reduce tax exemptions in order to pay for the service we believe are important. We (House Democrats) have used the Budget Stabilization Account (also known as the rainy day fund) to pay for the extraordinary fire season that devastated eastern Washington.
We tackled our mental health crisis. The senate did not use that fund, instead they cut programs. Their priority appears to not be mentally ill, children or homeless. Some of the policy bills they passed are not funded in their own budget.
The difference between the two budgets is huge, both in priority and the sheer scale of the spending. The Senate cuts programs that were funded in last year's budget to pay for emergencies while we have a crisis in recruiting and retaining classroom teachers, in our mental health system, and we have a housing crisis.
In contrast, the transportation budget was a more collegial process. The funding package from last session meant there were projects that folks could agree with and at least some money to fund those needs.
The Capital Budgets of the House and Senate could not be more different. The Senate stuck to only "emergency" projects. The House tried to ensure that all community needs were considered. For Clark County that meant that the Senate allocated one million dollars for the Academy roof. And the House allocated $500,000 for a small part of the Bridgeview project. This project is a partnership that includes the Housing Authority, our schools, the Boys and Girls Club, other agencies and addresses poverty and housing in a comprehensive way. It uses the best practices to help families become self-sufficient. Other entities are supporting this effort much more significantly and I am hoping for a higher amount in order to leverage additional private dollars.
This weekend I will be spending time with young people who are committed to participating in politics in a meaningful way. I look forward to their energy and commitment.