We are finally wrapping up the 2015 legislative session and I wanted to give you a brief update from Olympia.
Finishing our work
Last week, the Legislature voted to pass a $38.2 billion budget that will keep vital state services running and increase funding for social services that were cut during the Great Recession. We also finally managed to pass a 16.1 billion transportation package that will help alleviate congestion on our roads, increase transit options and complete major highway projects around the state. The package is also expected to create 100,000 jobs over the next decade.
The Legislature also passed a Capital Budget that will provide funding for a number of projects in the 38th district. Here are just a few of the larger projects:
- $54.6 million to construct a future home for the University Center consortium WSU manages at Everett Community College.
- $7 million to Marysville School District to replace the cafeteria at Marysville Pilchuck High School
- $500,000 to replace turf at Kasch Park in Everett
While we were able to avert a government shutdown by passing the operating budget last week, we were unable to complete our work due to a difference of opinion on education funding and high-stakes testing. I believe our existing resources aren’t enough to cover the state’s needs and fund our court-mandated obligation to K-12 education. We simply need a new sustainable revenue stream to fund schools.
Throughout the last week, we negotiated with Senate Republicans to ensure 2,000 kids will be able to graduate from high school. These students failed to pass a single biology exam that critics call unfair and flawed. Senate Democrats felt an extra week of session was worth ensuring these kids will have a chance to further their education. There is still a lot of important work to do to reform the state’s high-stakes testing system and this will give us time to find those solutions.
The Senate wrapped up work this afternoon and the House is expected to finish its work on Friday.
Working for diverse communities
I was honored to learn that I was recently selected by the University of Washington Alumni Association and Multicultural Alumni Partnership for a 2015 Distinguished Community Service Award. I received this award for my efforts in support of diversity. I fought hard this session to advocate for minority populations in our state. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans blocked many of these measures, but I will continue to work hard to make sure our state’s diverse communities have a voice in the Legislature.
I will be in touch in the coming weeks with a more comprehensive report on the 2015 session. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns.
Senator John McCoy