The special session has kicked into a higher gear as we approach June 11th, the 30th and final day of the special session under Washington’s constitution. Earlier this week the governor voiced how he likely would call a second special session to begin immediately if Tuesday comes and goes without a budget agreement. Perhaps that spurred majority leadership in the House of Representatives to finally get serious about budget negotiations, because on Wednesday they offered a new spending proposal.
The good news is that the House proposal scaled back its original tax plan, as well as the overall level of spending from the budget proposal it approved April 12. The bad news is that the vast majority of those spending reductions are tied to education, meaning that the House’s new approach would harm our state’s students and schools.
I remains focused on working collaborativly to find agreement on not only an operating and capital budget, but also the associated reform bills. My hope is that we will soon vote on a final budget that holds the line on taxes, gives K-12 and higher education the boost they deserve and ensures state government will be more accountable, transparent and efficient. As negotiations continue, I expect things to develop quickly.
Additionally, the Senate welcomed a new face to its chamber this week. Rep. Steve O’Ban was appointed unanimously Tuesday by the Pierce County Council to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the May 29 death of Sen. Mike Carrell. Mike was my friend and colleague, a true statesman and the kind of lawmaker we need more of in Olympia.
During his 19-year service, Mike was instrumental in passing such legislation as the “Becca” bill to help at- risk youth, prison and supervision reform, “fair-share” offender release, mental health system reform and worker protection, welfare reform, ethics in public service laws, veteran and military benefit improvements, and many others.
I appreciated Mike’s ability to see history that needed preservation where others saw only dilapidation. That led to his efforts to restore the grounds of Western State Hospital, identify the occupants of thousands of unmarked graves in its nearby cemetery, protect Fort Steilacoom’s historic parade grounds, and restore DuPont’s historic narrow-gauge dynamite train.
Like me, Mike was a car enthusiast and animal lover, spending much of his free time restoring his three Triumph automobiles and training his German Shepherds. The Senate won’t be the same without him, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.