Welcome to the 2017 Legislative Session!
It’s hard to believe the interim is over and the legislature is back in action. The week was busy with elected officials being sworn in, the Governor’s address to the legislature, the inaugural ball, bill introductions, work sessions and hearings, and more. On the first day of session, the House Appropriations Committee took public testimony on the Governor’s budget (HB 1067), and on the third day, the Senate Ways and Means committee did the same (SB 5048). While budget discussions will be taking place continuously, deliberations on the House and Senate budgets often take on a more rigorous tone after the February revenue forecast comes out.
While funding for McCleary, the K-12 lawsuit, will dominate many budget discussions, there are other significant priorities being considered by the legislature, including mental health; funding for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (and other early learning programs); the creation of a Department of Children, Youth, and Families; health care; homelessness; and more. There is not agreement with respect to how much money is necessary in order to adequately fund K-12 education, nor is there agreement about the need for additional revenue. It is clear from the budget hearings, however, that there are considerable service needs, as well as concern that funding will be taken from health and human services in order to fund education. More to come!
We hope that these weekly updates are helpful for keeping up on legislative activity and tracking the progress of bills throughout the session. Our online Bill Tracker doesn’t include all bills that are introduced, but we try to capture those most relevant to children and families. All bills can be found on www.leg.wa.gov. We will not be requesting action on bills, nor does inclusion of a bill on the update indicate support by Partners for Our Children. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
Here’s to a productive session and many positive changes for children and families!
Public Policy Director