Can you believe it? 2018 is just around the corner. I've been in Olympia this week for Committee Days — a week-long set of meetings to gear up for the 2018 session.
Here are 8 things to know before session starts on Jan. 8.
1. 2018 is a “short session”
Legislative session during even-numbered years is only 60 days long, including weekends and holidays. That means the regular session will be over before St. Patrick's Day.
Short session = MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE.
2. $9 million = safer roads
The transportation budget adopted in April will spend $9 million on East King County roads, including $5 million to re-design the I-90/SR 18 Interchange six years ahead of schedule. Issaquah and North Bend will see improvement projects too. I'll be overseeing that spending to make sure the projects are on time, on budget, and improving your daily commute.
3. ST3 still needs cleaning up
Half a dozen bills improving Sound Transit 3 are still hanging around from last year. From fixing the broken formula for calculating car tabs, to increasing the transparency of the Sound Transit board, I fully intend on cleaning up ST3 in a way that's both fair to commuters and taxpayers.
4. Capital budget + REAL Hirst fix → ASAP
The Legislature failed to pass a capital budget for construction last year. It also failed to fix Hirst, a Supreme Court decision that effectively eliminates new wells in rural areas.
This means that dozens of construction projects across East King County, both public and private, are on hold.
Estimates say Washington will lose $6.9 billion in economic activity every year Hirst remains unfixed.
We need a capital budget and a real solution to Hirst, ASAP.
5. In 2017, we funded K-12 education. Big time.
For the fourth year in a row, we made historic investments in K-12 education. $48 billion over the next four years, to be exact. That means pay raises for teachers and more resources for all students.
This is also the first time since the early 1980's that more than 50 percent of the operating budget will be dedicated to K-12 education.
Just yesterday, the Supreme Court said the new spending meets our constitutional obligation, although it required some money for salaries be spent earlier than planned. I'll be studying the Court's decision and sending more information out about this legislation soon.
6. A new department for families and kids, especially foster kids
Last year we created the Department of Children, Youth, and Families – a new agency replacing old bureaucracies mired within bloated organizations.
This new department has the chance to do better by kids and families, especially foster kids and parents. I've seen first-hand through my pro bono work for foster kids how poorly they were served under the old system. I'll be paying close attention to make sure this new department listens and responds to what kids and families need.
7. Increased transparency = stronger accountability
Government transparency and accountability are critical components of a truly representative democracy. I'm determined to improve both using every resource available to me. From the governor to city council members, all elected officials should be held to equally high standards.
8. I need you
You are my first priority. I'm here to listen, help, and lead.
Please call me with questions or input at (360) 786-7876 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to connecting with you, hearing your concerns, and serving you in Olympia.