At last we have resolved the 2016 supplemental budget. The Legislature adjourned on March 29, after a 20-day special session. It was disappointing we couldn’t reach an agreement in the 60-day regular session, but House Republicans were pleased with the final operating and capital budgets. Our goal was to pass a budget that:
- protected the rainy day fund from non-emergency spending;
- did NOT rely on tax increases;
- did NOT rely on budget gimmicks; and
- complied with our state’s four-year budget outlook.
The final operating budget did all those things and passed with a strong, bipartisan vote of 78-17 in the House, and passed the Senate by a vote of 27-17.
The capital budget, sometimes referred to as the “bricks and mortar” budget, also includes noteworthy stewardship projects protecting our waterways and environment, as well as working with local governments and non-profits on infrastructure and long-term investments. This year 25th District legislators in partnership with the city of Puyallup were able to get $500,000 in the supplemental capital budget for the Riverwalk Trail extension. These funds will allow for the design and construction of a 12-foot-wide shared-use path through the newly acquired Van Lierop property. It will continue to connect areas of Pierce County via the trail system benefitting the thousands of families that utilize it.
Besides the budgets, there were several accomplishments this session. For example, state lawmakers:
- Created a framework for K-12 education funding solutions;
- Saved public charter schools;
- Took steps to address the teacher shortage;
- Prioritized vision screening for students;
- Held the WSDOT secretary accountable;
- Provided Washington State Patrol with pay raises;
- Restricted the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals;
- Passed the Washington Cybercrime Act; and
- Created the Parent to Parent Program that connects parents of individuals with developmental disabilities with support and resources.
Thank you to Sarah Pollock
Sarah has served as my legislative assistant since I began my service to the 25th District in January 2011, and she is absolutely amazing. Sarah has decided to take on a new professional challenge in our community, and she will be concluding her work in our office soon. I’m glad that she is taking the next step in her career, but I’ll miss her professionalism, kindness, and a servant heart in our legislative office.
Sarah has made a real difference for so many people who have called our office needing help navigating the state bureaucracy, seeking access to public services, or just needing a friendly person to talk to. She has kept me on schedule and ensured that we reply to constituent emails and phone calls, never hesitating to go the extra mile to serve a constituent. Sarah has often been a mentor to new legislative assistant’s in other legislative offices.
Those of us in elected roles get lots of credit for lots of things, sometimes for things we had little to do with. I once asked former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton what achievement he was most proud of during his time in the U.S. Senate. He replied that it’s not really possible to attribute legislative achievements to any one person, since a legislature by its nature is a team process. And the unsung heroes in the legislative process are the staff members—legislative assistants, caucus policy and communications staff, and nonpartisan policy staff. The legislative branch of state government is stronger, and we are better off as a state, because of people like Sarah. She has been, and will continue to be in her future work, a blessing to the 25th District. If you’d like to send Sarah a note of thanks and congratulations, feel free to send her an email at email@example.com.
In Memory of Ernie Bay
Puyallup lost a community leader, trails champion, conservationist, and visionary when Dr. Ernie Bay passed away last week. Ernie was an accomplished entomologist who came to Puyallup in the early 1970s to run the Washington State University Research Extension. He filled various civic roles, from president of the Puyallup Kiwanis Club to commissioner of the Pierce Conservation District. He was best known for his longtime advocacy for the Foothills Trail and the Puyallup Riverwalk. Without Ernie’s tireless work to rally volunteers, raise funds, and lobby elected officials at every level, Pierce County would not have the trail system it does today. Our community owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Bay.
Homelessness meeting – April 7
Sen. Bruce Dammeier, Rep. Melanie Stambaugh and I are hosting a community meeting on the issue of homelessness. The meeting will address specific concerns that have been raised in Puyallup and Pierce County. The meeting is set for Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. at the Pioneer Park Pavilion, 330 S. Meridian St., Puyallup. We look forward to seeing you there.
We have finished the legislative session, but please feel free to call on me this interim. I am interested in ideas for bills that you may have, or contact me if you need assistance dealing with a state government agency. I would enjoy the chance to hear from you by phone, email, or over a cup of coffee. You can reach my Puyallup office at 253-840-4526.
State Representative Hans Zeiger
25th Legislative District