More than just McCleary, say Democratic leaders (w/video)
Funding K-12 education and building economic prosperity statewide are top priorities in 2017, House and Senate Democratic leaders said at today’s AWB Lobby Lunch.
Senate Democratic Floor Leader Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood; Senate Democratic Caucus Chair John McCoy, D-Tulalip; and, House Deputy Democratic Majority Leader Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, addressed K-12 education funding, the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, paid family leave, equal pay and the expired Research & Development (R&D) tax incentives.
Liias briefly opened with an acknowledgement of education funding, “Our number one and overriding mission, at least for the last couple of years, has been to elevate and stress the importance of taking action of fully and fairly funding our public schools,” he said.Although McCleary is the major focus of this legislative session, the lawmakers addressed several other issues during the lunch meeting.
Springer referred to three other highlights of the 2017 session: the Hirst decision, paid family leave and equal pay.
Springer took a “no water-no development” approach to Hirst. McCoy agreed, saying, “If we don’t get internet and solve the water issues” in rural areas, then “we won’t get economic development out there.” Currently, several bills are being considered to address the Hirst decision.
“Water allocation is a huge issue,” said Springer. But, he said, it’s too early to tell how difficult finding a solution that can get through both chambers will be.
McCoy said that if lawmakers do not solve the water issues and other infrastructure problems — internet connectivity — that statewide economic prosperity cannot be achieved.
Liias said that the results of the November elections have made his party realize there are fundamental issues that need to be resolved in rural Washington and that they are working on solutions.
Asked about renewal of the high-tech research and development (R&D) tax incentive, which the Legislature let expire in 2015, Springer said six or seven of his Democratic colleagues are taking a serious look at renewing it, something AWB has advocated for as part of economic development and attracting more high-tech, high-paying jobs. All three lawmakers said if an agreement is reached, it’s likely the tax credit would be narrowed to start-ups and more friendly toward the bio-tech industry.
Regarding paid family leave and equal pay, Springer said they were complicated issues but efforts from both sides of the isle have been substantial. “It’s much better for us to deal with it in the Legislature than through initiatives,” he said.
The business community and lawmakers must have a “nuanced discussion” to find a solution to paid leave that does not adversely impact small business, Liias said.
For more information on tax and fiscal issues, contact AWB Government Affairs Director Eric Lohnes. For information on the Hirst ruling and water issues, contact AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis.