Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're nearing the end of the 2019 legislative session. With only a few days left, there's still a lot left to tackle, including:
- 2019-21 operating budget, which as the name implies, funds our state's operational costs and services. I discussed the House proposal in my last email update, which you can read here;
- 2019-21 capital budget, which funds building projects throughout the state. I'm working with my fellow 25th District legislators Sen. Hans Zeiger and Rep. Kelly Chambers to get some important projects funded in our communities;
- 2019-21 transportation budget, which funds our state's roadways, ferries, and public transit.
Budget negotiators are continuing to meet and hash out the final details of these three budgets. I'll be sure to keep you updated as negotiations progress.
'Recession-proofing' financial aid is bad policy
I fundamentally believe that if you make a promise, you should do everything in your power to keep it. But some promises shouldn't be made in the first place. Such is the case with a bill before the House that aims to “recession-proof” higher education funding. As the assistant ranking member on the House College and Workforce Development Committee, I've seen a number of proposals this session to increase or modify state financial aid assistance for college students. The bill now being considered by the House combines a number of different policies from these bills and calls for roughly $1 billion in new taxes.
This bill is unsustainable and fails to solve the root problem faced by so many of our fellow citizens – the high cost of tuition and books. It is unsustainable as it calls for an incredible amount of new taxes that have no expiration date. While we may be able to cover that cost today due to our stellar economy, I have to wonder how we will do so once the economy cools and budgets tighten.
The bottom line is tuition and textbook costs have skyrocketed in recent years. If we really want to tackle college affordability, we need to do the most effective and benevolent thing – lower the cost of tuition and books for everyone.
Tiny houses: a creative approach to the affordable housing shortage
Washington state's population is growing faster than construction is keeping pace with. According to a 2018 US News and World Report, housing in Washington state is more unaffordable than almost anywhere else in the nation. The rising cost of housing is largely due to an overall shortage of available homes. In addition to making some much-needed reforms, there are a number of creative solutions we can implement to increase the supply of affordable housing. A good example is a series of bills sponsored by our very own 25th District Senator Hans Zeiger, which address some of the challenges with tiny-house development. One of those bills, Senate Bill 5383, allows cities and counties to permit tiny-home communities and clarifies that tiny homes on wheels may be sited in mobile home parks.
As his seatmate and the assistant ranking member on the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans Committee, I was happy to vote in favor of this legislation. You can watch the remarks I made about this bill on the House floor here or by clicking below.
Interim is around the corner
With the legislative session scheduled to adjourn April 28, that means interim is approaching. While the Legislature is out of session, lawmakers will be able to travel back to their districts to meet with constituents and begin planning for the next year. There are a number of things to look forward to this interim, including:
- Puyallup office coming soon! Once session is over, I'll be making a move to my district office in Puyallup (101 South Meridian, Puyallup, WA 98371). An opening date is to be determined, so please be sure to continue contacting my Olympia office at (360) 786-7968 or Chris.Gildon@leg.wa.gov.
- Deep-dive sessions. Since this interim will afford me a few months to meet with the people of the 25th District before the Legislature resumes in 2020, I will be hosting several deep-dive sessions organized around a specific industry or issue. My goal is to find some of those areas where government regulation is either lacking, excessive, or incorrectly applied, and have thoroughly vetted legislation ready for the 2020 session. I'm still in the planning phase for these events, so please get in touch with me if you have some ideas.
Also, if you haven't done so already, please 'like' and 'follow' my official legislative Facebook page. It's another great way to stay connected to your state Legislature!
As always, if you ever have any questions, ideas, or concerns, please don't hesitate to share them by emailing me at Chris.Gildon@leg.wa.gov or calling my office at (360) 786-7968. It's an honor serving you!