Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature has adjourned for 2016 after being in session for 80 days, 20 of which were spent in another unnecessary special session. We faced several challenges this session, and while we accomplished some very important things for Washington, there are still issues we must work on.
Before I discuss the 2016 supplemental operating budget, I would like to invite you to join Sen. Sharon Brown, Rep. Larry Haler and me for a town hall meeting.
Here are the details:
When: April 20 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Where: ARC of the Tri-Cities, 1455 SE Fowler St, Richland, WA 99352
I sure hope you can join us to have an important discussion concerning our state, past and future.
2016 supplemental operating budget
The main objective this session was to pass a supplemental operating budget. Though a budget was passed last week, I don't believe it is fiscally responsible and I was unable to support it. Budgeting is often difficult, but I know we can do a better job of managing the people's money and ensuring we keep the state on a solid financial footing.
The budget did fund some important programs. It's unfortunate it relies so heavily on fund transfers, exhausting the 2019 ending-fund balance, and federal dollars. And, while it balances over the next four years, as required by state law, it leaves only $9 million by the end of 2019. While $9 million seems like a lot of money, when compared to a $38 billion dollar budget it is spending down to the last dime. This concerns me.
Here are some details on the 2016 budget. You can read the full budget by clicking here.
- $5.2 million for the BEST program and paraeducator certification.
- $4.2 million for keeping charter schools open.
- $7.8 million for reimbursing higher education institutions for last year's reductions in tuition.
- $18 million to maintain state need grant funding based on interactions with the College Bound program.
Early Learning & Child Care
- $12.6 million for family child care provider collective bargaining agreements.
- $9.5 million for compensation increases to certain mental health employees including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers.
- $2 million for expanding the number of mobile crisis teams.
- $6.8 million for additional state hospital registered nurses at Western State Hospital.
Corrections & Criminal Justice
- $1.6 million related to work release services.
- $388,000 to implement the Washington State Patrol Troopers recruitment and retention policy.
- $4.3 million for health home services.
- $29 million for home health care individual provider overtime related to a federal rule change.
- $190 million from the Budget Stabilization Account (separate legislation) for wildfire
Below is a list of accounts affected by the 2016 supplemental budget. The Public Works Trust Fund was the hardest hit. Fund transfers are little more than a Band-Aid. We must be more responsible with the state's dedicated funds.
2016 Proposed Fund Transfers 2015-17 (in millions)
- Public Works Fund Balance $16.0
- Employment Services $3.0
- Washington Housing Trust Account $3.0
- Aerospace Loan Account $2.0
- Savings Incentive to GF (unspent balances) $1.1
- Charitable, Educational, Penal, and Reformatory Institutions $1.0
- Labor Relations Account $1.0
- Personnel Services Account Transfer $0.5
- Professional Engineers Account Transfer $0.5
- Real Estate Commission Account Transfer $0.5
- Real Estate Research Account Transfer $0.5
- Flood Control addition $0.4
Total Fund Transfers to the General Fund $29.4
With the session adjourned, I am looking forward to being back in district. Working in our community is one of my favorite parts of being your state representative. Please contact me with your questions, concerns and comments on issues important to you, our community or our state. If you would like me to visit your community group, school, or business, please feel free to contact my office to make arrangements, and we will make it happen.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you! May God richly bless you, your family and friends, and may God always bless America! Now go out there and have a Great Washington Day!