Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week I had members of the court of the Spokane Lilac Festival visit me in Olympia. The Lilac Festival has a rich history in Spokane, and is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year. Run completely by volunteers, this is a fantastic celebration of the communities which make up Spokane County and I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the festivities on May 18!
Telephone Town Hall April 17
I wanted to send out a quick note to let you know I will be holding a telephone town hall, and you’re invited to participate!
On Wednesday, April 17 I will spend an hour answering your questions live during a community conversation.
The conversation begins at 6:30 p.m. and it’s easy to participate.
Call toll-free 1-877-229-8493 and enter the code 15438 when prompted. Once on the line, you may select *3 on your telephone keypads to ask a question or you can simply listen in and take part in instant polls.
On Wednesday, the Senate released their bipartisan budget proposal, and I am encouraged that for the first time in recent memory Republicans and Democrats stood together at the press conference and pledged their support.
I have not had time to review the 401-page document in depth yet, but at first pass I am encouraged that the proposal prioritizes K12 education as our state constitution requires. In the coming weeks I will offer my thoughts on this proposal and the House Democrat proposal. From these two documents we will begin the process of compromise to come to a final 2013-2015 operating budget. It is crucial that we provide a balanced budget that prioritizes education and the most vulnerable in our society without increasing the burden on taxpayers.
Last year while teaching Economics at Whitworth University, students often ask about the many “mixed messages” we receive on the economy and our recovery from the recession. I agree that it can be confusing when some economists are saying our economy is up, while others are saying it is still spiraling down.
Recently though, a number of economist are in agreement that a “V” shaped recovery is taking place signaling blue skies ahead in our recovery.
Especially now as we appear to be finally climbing out of the recession, there are things we must learn about how the federal government acted and be sure to not make the same mistakes on the state level. Instead of government trying to find ways to change policies in the hopes of encouraging consumers to spend money, we should do the things we know will encourage and inspire consumer confidence. Washington citizens only feel confident spending money when they are employed, so we must focus on ways to help small business to flourish in our state.
School safety and Senate Bill 5197
I was recently asked to be involved in negotiations on a piece of legislation and offer my opinions on school safety plans as a survivor of the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999. Senate Bill 5197 originally would have required all public schools in Washington to install “panic buttons” to be used in the event of an emergency, such as an active shooter on campus.
The problem I saw was the mandate of the use of this particular type of safety technology as a “one-size-fits-all” approach which may not work for all Washington schools. I worked on an amendment to the bill which requires districts to work with local law enforcement to develop an emergency response system to expedite the response and arrival of law enforcement. In emergency situations, every second counts and it is critical that we get assistance to our schools as quickly as possible.
I believe it’s important we as legislators encourage school boards, parents, teachers and students to have open conversations about how best to approach school safety in individual districts. Part of our paramount duty is not only to education our kids, but make sure they can learn in a safe environment. The current version of the bill I helped develop does this, without mandating one approach over another.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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