Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
We are past our first cut-off, Feb. 20. Bills that have received a public hearing and have been voted out of committee will continue through the legislative process. I am focused on increasing fairness in how our state deals with small businesses and creating more transparency in state government.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state senator.
20th District Senator
College Affordability Program
I recently unveiled a new plan for college affordability in our state. Tuition has become unaffordable for Washingtonians. Skyrocketing tuition has acted like a tax on the middle-class who are ineligible for many financial aid programs. Even though our state has one of the most generous financial aid systems in the nation, college students are graduating with significant debt. This will have far reaching impacts to our economy as graduates postpone major life events like starting a family or buying a home. Please click here to read more about this proposed legislation.
Please click here to read more about this proposed legislation.
I introduced Senate Bill 5329 that would require public employees’ union negotiations to be open to the public.
It is important to have transparency and openness in government. We’ve recently seen private negotiations between the governor’s office and public unions that resulted in an additional taxpayer commitment of over half a billion dollars. The public deserves visibility on these negotiations.
The Open Public Meetings Act requires that all meetings of governing bodies of public agencies be open and accessible to the public; however, public employee collective bargaining is exempt from compliance.A meeting is generally defined as any situation where a majority of members from a governing body meet and discuss the business of that body. My proposed legislation would remove the current exemption from the act and require collective bargaining meetings to be open.
Bargaining should not be done in secret. Eliminating this exemption is a reasonable step toward increasing transparency in government and ensuring a balance between the interests of our state employees and those that pay the salaries.
This year I introduced a bill that would make significant changes in how our state provides pay increases for state employees. It is a simple concept that ties the pay increases to the state’s average wage instead of a percentage of an employee’s salary. Senate Bill 5979 makes sense and gets at a core issue of fairness and could also save the state money.
As I mentioned earlier regarding collective bargaining agreements promoted by the governor, salary increases could result in an additional commitment of over a half-billion dollars from the state. Simply put, my bill makes a real difference for lower paid workers because the cost of bread and fuel is the same price whether you make $30,000 a year or $100,000 a year. If we give everyone a 3 percent raise, the employee earning $30,000 a year would see an increase of only $900 a year compared to almost $3,000 by someone earning $100,000.
Instead of giving already high earning state employees a larger share, we can tackle income inequality by giving across-the-board salary increases that are tied to the state’s average wage.