I hope you are enjoying this beautiful Pacific Northwest summer; I know I have. Between meeting with constituents, enjoying the sunshine at community events and driving to Olympia for Legislative commitments, the summer has really flown by.
I was honored to visit with many of my neighbors and constituents this summer, but a fair amount of time has gone by since I wrote you last and I hope you will take a moment to read a few quick updates on issues that are affecting our community.
But first…please join me this Friday at Whidbey Golf Club for my Annual Golf Tournament!
It’s still not too late to sign up for my annual golf tournament and/or become a sponsor. Please click here for more information or to sign up!
Protecting our At Risk Citizens
For those with loved ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the fear of your loved one wandering and getting lost is very real. Recent cases of lost seniors struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia has renewed conversations regarding Washington State’s Endangered Missing Person Advisory Plan, which has been underused in broadcasting when seniors are missing.
After watching the affect Alzheimer’s had on my own mother, I know how crucial every moment is when your loved one has wandered and is lost.
In the past, I have sponsored legislation to bring the Silver Alert System to Washington, a system that works much like the Amber Alert system. I think doing this, or making modifications to the existing Endangered Missing Person Advisory, will go a long way towards helping our senior citizens remain safe.
It is time to move forward on improving the safety of our vulnerable citizens.
Keeping Transportation Funding Accountable
Smooth and reliable transportation, both public and private, is critical to our everyday lives.
At the local level, recent events have indicated possible mismanagement of Island Transit’s finances. Our state has seen too many botched and failed transportation projects in the last several years and I am committed to making sure our community is running smoothly and taxpayers’ dollars are being used efficiently.
After hearing of the mismanaged funds, I joined with the 10th District Representatives and the Senate Transportation Committee in drafting and sending letters to the state auditor asking for an audit of Island Transit’s finances. I will continue working in the upcoming legislative session to ensure that transportation is being properly funded and your tax dollars are being used efficiently.
I am honored to announce that I was recently recognized by the University of Washington as a “Top Dawg” for my work and dedication to ensuring our veterans have access to higher education and working to keep tuition costs down in Washington. Thank you!
In a few days expect to see another newsletter updating you on the following:
- State Pension System
- Long Term Health Care
Stay alert! School begins this week across the state. Be careful on the roads.
I hope to see you this Friday!
Believe it or not, it’s less than two months now until my Annual Golf Tournament! I need your support to continue to serve the citizens of the 10th District well and this is a great way to help and to have fun at the same time.
Please consider joining us! Details are below:
Interested in sponsoring a hole or have questions about the tournament? Please contact Butch: 360-679-2055 or email@example.com.
I look forward to seeing you there!
This Friday is Independence Day. Many of us spend time traveling, enjoying the outdoors and visiting family over the holiday each year. But before we enjoy the 4th, I want to take a moment to acknowledge those who continue to ensure that we have the independence that we cherish.
Not long ago I had the privilege of joining a ceremony at the State Capitol honoring new Medal of Honor recipients. In the photo above is SFC Leroy Petry, SSG Ty Carter and CPT William Swenson.
It’s people like these who make it possible for us to continue to celebrate our country and the freedoms we enjoy. Freedoms never come free. Men and women have died in both the establishment of our freedom and in its preservation. This Friday, let’s celebrate our nation’s birthday and remember the price that was paid so that we can continue to celebrate it.
Out in the Community this Weekend
My schedule for this weekend is a busy one! I hope I have the opportunity to see you somewhere in the district during the holiday.
As always, I will be participating in the Oak Harbor 4th of July Parade on Friday. After that I’ll be participating in a special event at Freedom Park on Camano Island – Honoring America’s Heroes, Past and Present. I always anticipate with enthusiasm the many ways our communities honor our nation, and particularly those who made heavy sacrifices for you and me.
I am fortunate to have some of my family coming in over the weekend. This was not always the case, which a lot of you can relate to because of your past (or present) military service or those close family members who may be deployed. We plan to have a family BBQ, which is something very important to me. It is the continuation of a family tradition going back to my childhood. Growing up, family, BBQs and watermelon were at the center of every Independence Day celebration. I hope you are able to be with your families and loved ones, and foster those special relations that only special days can bring.
I’m looking forward to seeing many of you this weekend as well as being with my family, and together making the most of this important holiday.
I hope you have a great weekend as well!
Please join Friends of Barbara Bailey for a great day of golfing. Your presence or sponsorship will be greatly appreciated!
Interested in sponsoring a hole? Or have questions about the tournament? Please contact Butch Bailey:
360-679-2055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been a while since I’ve written and a lot has happened. The citizens of Oso and Darrington continue to recover and rebuild their lives. I continue to assist where I can, but realize this is a long, slow and sometimes painful process. However, the citizens of Oso and Darrington are remarkable people who will come through this with strength and honor.
Post-Session Education Update
As Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, I’ve been involved with several pieces of legislation that will benefit students of all ages. Today I want talk about a few important issues in this area.
GET Program a Continued Success
I have long been an advocate for the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. GET is a great way for families to save for college now by essentially allowing them to pay now for tuition they will use later at today’s price.
Recently, GET’s future looked bleak. Several legislators wanted to end the program; however, I pushed hard to keep it going because I know that it is important, especially to middle and lower income families.
You can read a great editorial in The Olympian about the benefits of the GET program by clicking here.
Education Successes During Session
Below are a few areas where we were highly successful in improving education for Washington students from Kindergarten to Higher Education. One of the key benefits we had was the fact we began the legislative session with a balanced budget. This allowed us to better look at all our obligations and make some positive adjustments. We were able to attain added efficiencies in resource allocations that enabled us to increase funding to both K-12 and Higher Education without considering raising taxes.
- We added an additional $102 million to education spending, which is two-thirds of the additional revenue added to the budget during session. This reversed, and even flipped, a trend of previous years between education and new social programs.
- Of that money, $42 million went into higher education, which allowed us to freeze state tuition rates for another year.
- $25 million went into the Opportunity Scholarship program, $5 million was added to State Need Grant funding and $12 million was dedicated for College Bound.
- A bill I sponsored that was signed into law by the Governor gives military veterans in-state tuition rates without requiring them to wait to establish residency.
These and other successes round out many of the accomplishments of the short session. In the end, I think the Legislature did well trying to balance all the needs of the state with the decision rendered by the State Supreme Court to dramatically increase education funding.
The State Loses Control of About $40 Million in School Funding
One shortfall of the past session was the inability of the Governor and both sides of the Legislature to come to agreement on how to apply teacher evaluations as they applied to the No Child Left Behind Act. By not requiring these evaluations to be a part of the student learning process, the Federal Government rescinded a waiver previously granted. The State will still get the funds; however, local school districts are now limited/constrained in how they can use these funds.
Here is an excerpt from an Associated Press article that explains the consequences of this inaction:
The U.S. Department of Education announced last month that Washington was losing its waiver from the restrictions of the No Child Left Behind law. The Legislature, it said, had failed to pass a law requiring school districts to include statewide test scores as an element in teacher evaluations.
The loss of the waiver means there are new restrictions on how schools can spend $40 million in federal dollars each year. Beginning with the next school year, that money must now be set aside to transport kids to more successful schools or to pay their tuition in private tutoring programs or run specific teacher training.
Districts like Tacoma, Yakima and Spokane are scrambling to figure out how to keep their successful programs without the federal dollars to pay for them.
We can’t be certain how this will play out except that it throws an unnecessary wrench in school districts’ budgets. One thing is for sure: local school districts wanted the bill to pass, but the Washington Education Association (WEA) did not. In the end, they were able to influence more legislators to not pass the bill. That’s why many, including a number of newspaper editorial boards across the state, are so shocked at what happened.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to send me an email at email@example.com with any comments or questions.
Thanks for reading! I hope to hear from you soon.