The 2017 legislative session got under way on Monday, Jan. 9. It is an honor to be sworn into a third term in office, representing the 18th Legislative District.
Governor's plan not the only way
On Wednesday, Gov. Inslee delivered his Inaugural Address to a joint session of the House and Senate. I am disappointed (but not surprised) that the governor wants to increase taxes by more than $5.3 billion (the largest tax increase in the history of Washington) on energy, capital income, small businesses, vehicles and bottled water. He believes this is the way to address the requirements of the state Supreme Court under the “McCleary Decision.”
I was encouraged, however, to hear Gov. Inslee say “My plan isn't the only way. I'm looking forward to working with all of you. There are many routes to the summit. I've been meeting with legislators this week and want to hear the ideas you have for getting this done.”
We will have plenty of ideas to share with the governor in the coming weeks that will build on the successes and gains we've created over the past four years in K-12 education, but it will not be just about money — certainly not billions in tax increases. We will also focus on accountability and improved student outcomes.
Alternatives to success besides a four-year degree
In my e-newsletter last month, I said if we are serious about improving high school graduation rates from just 77 percent, “we must work together for a curriculum that creates the potential for success for all of our students, not just those bound for four-year universities.”
It sounds like the governor is finally on that same path. He said in his speech Wednesday, “We are going to stop telling our children that a four-year degree is the only path to success. It's time we recognize the dreams of those who want to build beautiful boats as a welder, or assemble aircraft as a machinist, or help cure diseases as a global health specialist.”
My goal this session is to return vocational education programs into our high schools, provide greater worksite learning opportunities for high school students, and increase apprenticeship, career and technical education programs. By making these programs available to our students who do not wish to attend college or a four-year university, we will better prepare them for a meaningful career and truly make them future ready.
My priorities for the 2017 session
Recently, I was asked by a reporter what my priorities are for the 2017 session. I jotted down this quick summary to share with her. Each week during session in my e-newsletter, I will provide more in-depth discussion on these priorities, which are in no particular order below:
- Prioritize recreational fishing opportunities through reforms at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife;
- Support affordable, new transportation infrastructure between Southwest Washington and Portland to improve freight mobility and ease traffic congestion;
- Reform the Growth Management Act (GMA) to allow local legislative authorities to opt out of the Hearings Board process and let land-use appeals be expedited to the Superior Court;
- Identify adjacent property to short-line rail roads as potential light industrial land under new GMA designation to help create new manufacturing jobs;
- Improve drivers' education programs to reduce young driver fatalities and serious injury accidents;
- Reform the Department of Corrections industrial insurance mandates on local governments and non-profits utilizing work release programs;
- Reform the Department of Labor and Industries' time-loss benefit program for employees injured on the job as a result of their own intoxicating drug and/or alcohol use in the workplace; and
- Place a moratorium on all new state agency rulemaking not first approved by Legislature.
I welcome your thoughts and comments as we progress through the scheduled 105-day session. Please contact my office. You'll find my contact information below.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you!
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"