Saturday, April 30, 2016
By Evan Smith
Democratic State Rep. Cindy Ryu says she was disappointed at the end of the 60-day regular 2016 legislative session, when Republicans, who control the State Senate, could not come to an agreement with House majority Democrats in negotiating a supplemental operating budget.
As a result, she recently told constituents, "The Governor had to call us back for special session to finish our work on the budget.
"It took a few weeks of special session for the House and Senate to pass a budget."
She said that she is pleased that the supplemental budget moves the state forward on many pressing needs without compromising core values.
Ryu said that highlights from the 2016 supplemental budget include money for fighting the 2015 wild fires in north central Washington ($178.3 million), money for narrowing the educational opportunity gap ($1.2 million), money to provide para-educator professional development ($1.7 million), money for combating the teacher shortage ($2.1 million), money for state colleges and universities for what is called "Tuition Backfill," to make up for money lost in the 2015 tuition reduction ($7.8 million), and money for State Patrol recruitment and retention ($388,000).
She said that highlights from the 2016 supplemental capital budget include added money for K-3 class-size-reduction grants ($34.5 million), additions to the school-construction assistance program ($34.7 million), money for community and technical college student housing and other projects ($70 million), additions to the Housing Trust Fund ($8 million), money for supportive housing and emergency shelters ($2.25 million), money to build facilities for homeless youth ($2.5 million), money for hospital-diversion and crisis-triage centers ($8.5 million), money to provide critical repairs and upgrades at state mental-health facilities and hospitals ($7.9 million), money for mental-health supportive housing ($7.5 million), and added money for the community behavioral-health-grant program (5 million).
She lamented the death of some bills passed by the House that failed in the Republican-controled State Senate, including one to support the solar-incentives bill, another to support the breakfast-after-the-bell program, a third a bill that she sponsored with the aim of creating a fairer system of excise taxation follows martial-arts academies, another to support the Washington Voting Rights Act, and Rep. Jessyn Farrell’s bill to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace for pregnant women.
Ryu noted that she had introduced 12 bills this year. Three of them passed the House; one became law after passing the State Senate and getting Gov. Jay Inslee's signature, one failed to come out of the Senate rules committee and one was replaced in the Senate by a companion bill that passed and got the governor's signature.
Ryu's bill on human trafficking passed the House unanimously and was replaced in the Senate Rules Committee with a companion bill that had similar language before passing unanimously in both houses; Gov. Inslee signed it into law March 10.
Ryu's bill that creates a joint legislative task force to review current laws, practices and policies regarding the use of deadly force, passed the house unanimously, and the Senate with 46 nays and three nays. Gov. Inslee signed the bill into law April 1.
A bill to change the excise-taxation of martial arts academies passed unanimously out of the House, but failed to come out of the Senate Rules Committee.
Ryu represents the 32nd Legislative District, including the city of Shoreline and part of northwest Seattle, the town of Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, south Edmonds, all of Lynnwood, and part of Mountlake Terrace. She is chairwoman of the State House committee on community development, housing and tribal affairs; a member of the House Finance Committee; and a member of the committee on business and financial services.
Evan Smith can be reached at email@example.com.