Tag Archives: Conservation Districts

Honeyford bills will create jobs for teens, reduce clerical burdens

Senator Jim HoneyfordGov. Jay Inslee signed two bills Tuesday that will benefit businesses in Washington and hopefully put more people to work. Senate Bills 5056 and 5770, both sponsored by 15th District Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside, make it easier for businesses to hire minors and reduce the clerical burdens of small conservation districts.

“Employers shared with us when they came to testify in support of these measures that they have to fill out an entirely new master business-license application just to hire young people,” said Honeyford, the top Republican on the Senate’s rural economic-development committee. “This bill pares the required information to only what is essential, thereby allowing businesses to create more opportunities for young people to find work and develop lifelong employment skills.” Continue reading

Status of my bills in the House of Representatives

I am pleased to report the Senate passed 11 of my bills and sent them to the House of Representatives for consideration. Currently, 10 of my 11 bills have public hearings scheduled in various House Committees.

The most important bill I sponsored this year is Senate Bill 5445 that provides $445m in grants for school construction and safety upgrades. After passing unanimously off the Senate floor to the House, it remains in the House Capital Budget Committee.   Continue reading

Reforms, restraint in new state budget earn my support

The state Senate voted tonight to adopt a state operating budget for 2011-13, ending months of negotiation that helped push the Legislature into a 30-day special session. I joined a bipartisan majority in support of the spending plan, saying it offers a responsible combination of reforms and spending discipline that will help put state government back on solid financial ground.

I remember the last time the Legislature passed a budget that spent less than the state expected to take in – that was 1997. This budget comes in about 350 million dollars less than the anticipated revenue, and leaves more than 700 million dollars in reserve. Hopefully that will be enough to weather any more revenue reductions as we go through this year.

No one figured this budget would include tax increases, thanks to the limit reinstated by the voters several months ago, but it also doesn’t include fees that were rumored earlier this session: no water fees, no agricultural fees, no fees for habitat or forest protection. I have to believe the bipartisan approach the Senate took to this budget had a lot to do with holding the line in those areas.

Funding for K-12 schools will climb by $356 million, with the level of funding per pupil going up as well. Schools will have more discretion regarding how they spend state money, and funding for levy equalization will be preserved, benefiting two-thirds of Washington school districts.

Funding for county agricultural fairs will remain whole and while conservation districts will see a drop in funding, the budget agreement also contains a breakthrough related to water management: For the first time, funding for the Department of Ecology will be tied to its performance on water-right processing.

Here’s a list of reforms in other areas of government that make the budget package good for taxpayers, including:

• workers’ compensation reform, which benefits both employers and workers;
• caps and controls on the Basic Health Plan and “disability lifeline”;
• steps to reduce rampant abuse of electronic benefit-transfer cards;
• more flexibility concerning Medicaid spending, which constitutes a large part of state spending;
• an emphasis on contracting services out through the creation of a new enterprise-services agency; and
• less reliance on transfers from other funds, one-time cash infusions or budget gimmicks, such as “securitizing” tobacco settlement money.

Today was the final day of the special session. The new budget, which passed 34-13 in the Senate, will take effect July 1.