|Ann Murphy, President
Jasmine Karpelman, Newsletter Editor
|July 15, 2015
Vol. 47, Issue 16
End of Session!
This 2015 session wrap-up legislative newsletter has literally been months in the making. A few days ago, the legislature finally adjourned their record setting 178 days, after a regular session and three special sessions. The 6+ months of legislating resulted in some great successes for LWVWA advocates, some near misses and some real disappointments. Regardless of the outcome on specific issues, your Lobby Team wants to thank you for your continued support. We all recognize that our work in Olympia would not have the impact it does were it not for League members working on these issues and communicating with their legislators across the state. You made a real difference.
Of course, of major importance was the legislature’s agreeing on an operating budget before the end of our fiscal year, and thus avoiding a government shutdown. Some of the highlights of the Budget include:
‣ $1.3 billion in additional funding for our K-12 system, including K-3 class size reduction, and all-day kindergarten Funding was included for a partial educator COLA.
‣ A historic investment in early-childhood education and funding for all-day kindergarten
‣ $16 billion in crucial infrastructure funding through a transportation package
‣ Parks funding increase in both capital and operating budgets
‣ Approximately $100 million for increased mental health services and addressing deficiencies in access to treatment
‣ $9.6 million to restore a previous cut to food assistance, and $30 million to partially restore a cut families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) beginning to compensate for losses in this program during the recession.
‣ $162 million from closing tax loopholes tax breaks, allowing in revenue to be spent on more important priorities.
For more information, see this Schmudget Blog from our friends at WA Budget and Policy Center
One of the League’s major successes this year was passage of the Early Start Act. Leagues effort in this area was led by none other than Pat Dickason our former Advocacy Chair.
The bill invests $94.5 million for the Early Start Act alone as part of a total early learning budget of $158 million.
League has been advocating for this bill in various forms for the past several legislative sessions and for some sections of it for the past 25 years. It is a great example of what can be accomplished with the passion, knowledge and tenacity of Advocates like Pat.
Thank You Pat Dickason
Speaking of Pat Dickason, I want to thank her for her dedication and hard work leading our advocacy efforts over the last four years. She has built an incredible team of citizen lobbyists that I am lucky to inherit. She and this team have raised the stature of the League of Women Voters in Olympia, allowing us to have greater impact. You are a tough act to follow Pat! The entire team thanks you.
LWVWA Says No to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1366
Just because the legislature is adjourned does not mean that the League's advocacy work is done. One of the questions that will be on the November ballot is Tim Eyman's Initiative 1366. This initiative would force legislators to choose between two difficult options: allow the state's sales tax to decrease from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent or refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot that would require a two-thirds vote in the legislature or voter approval to raise taxes or close tax loopholes. The first would gut $1 billion from an already bare-bones state budget, and the second would make increasing taxes much more difficult.
The League of Women Voters of Washington is on record in opposition to I-1366. League supports action to achieve a representative and effective state legislature. And this initiative, if passed, would diminish the legislature’s ability to function effectively.
Furthermore, League supports action to obtain a balanced tax structure that is fair, adequate, flexible and has a sound economic effect. If passed, this initiative would make it nearly impossible to identify any new revenue to make Washington’s tax system less regressive and more fair.
Read an analysis of I-1366 on schmudget.
New Opportunities to be Involved
One of my major goals for our advocacy work is to involve more people from across the state in doing meaningful work on League Advocacy. While some of that work ,such as testifying and meeting with legislative leaders, needs to occur in Olympia, the bulk of it does not. Our advocacy team needs members who want to help with building support for a wide range of issues. Would you like to help with research, writing and messaging, organizing other League members to act? Start by going here and indicating which issues you are interested in working on.
I invite each of you to reach out to me at any time to share your thoughts and priorities for League Advocacy.
Kathy Sakahara, VP Advocacy, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-261-7797
End of Session Updates on Legislative Priorities
Please click on the areas of interest to you to see the status of bills that the Lobby Team has worked on this session.
Click here for a list of Lobby Team members and contact info.