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Washington state Legislature addresses several GSI priorities

Greater Spokane Incorporated CEO Todd Mielke sent the following message to members this afternoon:

Big news: The State Legislature adjourned last night on schedule, finishing a feverish 60-day session that produced many important victories on GSI’s 2018 State Legislative Priority Agenda! We are very thankful to all our local legislators for their hard work representing our region and are excited about the passage of several bills and funding requests that we’ve been advocating for along with our community partners and stakeholder groups.

GSI’s public policy efforts on behalf of the Spokane Region have played an important role in representing our business community. Our Public Policy Council works hard to gather input and create a unified legislative agenda that is then adopted by our Board of Trustees. GSI lobbies to advance those agenda items in the state legislature. This includes our annual Joint Chambers’ Olympia Fly-In that saw a record number of Spokane-area business and community leaders descend on the State Capitol to advocate for these issues as well as several other policy and funding priorities. I think you will be happy with the results!

Here are other items on our State Legislative Agenda that we’re excited about:
  • Full funding of the State Need Grant ($18.5 million per year over the next four years) so all eligible students can access this critical financial aid and prepare for entering the workforce.
  • Supplemental operating budget that increases funding for K-12 education in response to the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision as well as STEM, mental health treatment, wildfire response, Associate Economic Development Organizations (ADOs), and other regional priorities.
  • Defeat of multiple proposed tax increases and new regulations that would have hurt our economy, including the carbon tax and capital gains tax.
  • Passage of legislation vital to our members – including a bill from our Agribusiness Council that will help ag transporters compete with other states (SB 6180), adding Washington State University to the family medicine residency network (HB 2443), and establishing a task force to address childcare accessibility and affordability (HB 2367).
  • Supplemental Capital Budget with additional funding for Mt. Spokane, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office, Spokane Community Colleges and other regional projects – this is on TOP of nearly $120 million for Spokane-area projects included in the original Capital Budget passed in January (see my previous legislative update here).
  • Supplemental Transportation Budget that assures continued funding for “Connecting Washington” projects, improvements to Barker Road in Spokane Valley, and other infrastructure priorities on our agenda.
All in all, this was a great legislative session for the entire Spokane region. There’s still some unfinished business and more work to be done, but we can all be very proud of these accomplishments. Again, thank you to our legislators and to the many GSI members and community partners who contributed to the success of our State Legislative Agenda!
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