We hope you enjoyed your three-day weekend! While you were celebrating President’s Day, or Washington’s Birthday as it’s still known to federal employees, the Senate Democratic Caucus released its proposed supplemental budgets.
That’s among the topics for your review today, including gun legislation, a new daily email, and a podcast. As always, thanks for reading.
1. Senate Dems release supplemental budgets
Yesterday the Senate Democrats released their 2018 supplemental budgets. The $900m operating budget and $300m capital budget both focus on K-12 education and behavioral health. The operating budget fulfills McCleary by implementing the new teacher salary allocation model this year. The budget also pays for court penalties accrued under the Trueblood Decision while addressing the opioid crisis and lack of forensic beds at Western State Hospital.
The operating budget also includes a $403 million one-time property tax cut in 2019. This cut is due to last week’s revenue forecast predicting a $647 million increase in revenue for this biennium. The proposed 31-cent drop needs to be approved by a super-majority. Senate Republican Ericksen was advocating for an 81-cent drop this session. We’ll be watching to see if those numbers get any closer together.
Watch for the House to release its supplemental budget proposals today.
2. A renewed call for gun legislation
In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, renewed calls for gun legislation have risen from community members and legislators. At the beginning of the 2018 session, a slew of gun-related bills were introduced in committee, but few have advanced much further.
In the United States, three of the top ten deadliest mass shootings have taken place in the last five months. Close to home, a high school student in Everett was arrested last weekafter his grandmother found written plans to target his high school with a mass shooting. Police found two inert grenades and a semiautomatic rifle in his room.
With few gun-related bills moving forward in Washington’s Legislature this year, Democrat leadership is now calling on citizens to bring forth initiatives of their own.
3. Sign up for the Daily Wire!
We’ve been proud watching the Washington State Wire grow over the past year. We brought you the Morning Wire and hosted our first Re-Wire Policy Conference. We brought you multimedia content through podcasts and videos. And we’ve had reporter Emily Boerger covering policy at the Capitol for the majority of the session.
So, we’re thrilled to announce that in the upcoming weeks, we’ll be launching The Daily Wire. This daily email will bring you a summary of each of the stories posted at the Wire from the day before. You can update your email preferences to sign up.
4. Inslee on carbon tax leadership
In an interview with SLOG about his proposed carbon tax, Governor Inslee called on members of the House to show more leadership in pushing the carbon tax forward. Inslee named Senators Reuven Carlyle and Guy Palumbo as legislators who are doing “tremendous work” getting Senate votes together, but says there needs to be action in both chambers to pass the bill.
When asked specifically if House Speaker Frank Chopp is working to bring the bill home, the governor remained mostly tight-lipped, saying, “we need forceful voices in this community, in both chambers, to get the votes are necessary—including from the progressive community. That’s what I’m saying.”
5. Podcast: Local Government in a Time of President Trump
There’s no denying that President Trump has been a disruptive force in politics, regardless of your opinion. But his administration’s actions affect all levels of government. So in this podcast, we hear from four local political leaders on how the federal government has impacted their communities.
Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young, who speaks to the impact on health coverage and behavioral health issues, captures the issue nicely: “The unpredictability is real and we need to get back to the old way of doing business with either party in power.”
Spokane City Councilmember Breean Beggs addresses the question of creating good, politically acceptable policy. King County Council Chair Joe McDermott discusses the necessity of providing leadership and Snohomish County Councilmember Terry Ryan addresses the issues of federal funding uncertainty during population growth.
6. Wire Insider: Rep. JT Wilcox
Representative J.T. Wilcox represents the 2nd District, which includes part of Pierce and Thurston Counties. He serves on the Appropriations, Finance, and Rules Committees and as Floor Leader for the House Republicans. He joins us as a “Wire Insider” to talk about public engagement in politics.
“You know, it is not good politics, if you’re someone who is well known or has a lot of influence, to go to the caucus leaders and say, ‘I need this, make your caucus do it.’ First of all, they’re probably not going to do it. But second of all, that really creates the distrust that we’re already seeing when politicians go and do things over the top of the public. If you really care about something, go and help and explain it the public, change their minds, get them behind you.”
7. Medicaid procurement continues
Last week we talked about how we heard Speaker Chopp was getting involved in changing the rules for the Health Care Authority’s Medicaid procurement. The HCA has since released the RFP for the Managed Care Organizations for the 8 remaining service regions. And that RFP does not allow all 5 MCOs to contract in all the regions.
This goes against what we’ve heard Speaker Chopp and at least one MCO are trying to accomplish. From the RFP, this sentence stood out the most: “HCA reserves the right to limit the number of clients enrolled in any single MCO.”
To me, that looks like the HCA may be trying to be proactive against any change to the procurement process that would increase the number of MCOs in a region.