Here is a quick recap of our first day of the 2017 Olympia Fly-In, which includes a delegation of nearly 100 area business, community, and education leaders advocating on behalf of our region to provide a unified voice for our legislators.
The 2017 legislative session is becoming a busy season for legislators in Olympia. Sessions on day one of the fly-in focused on education issues as well as environment and water policy issues.
One of the major items of discussion regarding education continues to be the McCleary decision, which requires the Washington state legislature to fully fund K-12 education by 2018. Part of the decision stipulates that the state legislature must make measurable progress each year to fully fund education. Our sessions in day one showed that Republicans and Democrats are still at odds on finding a funding mechanism or a definitive amount to solve the McCleary funding issue.
Another focus regarding education is restoring Career Technical Education funding levels to what they were prior to 2012. The Washington State Council of Presidents recently shared with state legislators that Washington ranked 47th in the nation for college participation by age 19, at 36.7 percent, compared to the national average of 46.8 percent. This will be the biggest issue during the legislative session.
On the topic of the environment, there was a lot of discussion about continuing to fund the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force, as they have done a stellar job and were praised as a national model by our legislators. We have a big push to ensure water regulations are actually attainable by our businesses, who are already in the greenest state in the union.
Our delegation met with the following legislators to cover environment and water policy issues as well as education issues:
- Rep. Bob McCaslin (R – Spokane Valley)
- Rep. Larry Springer (D – Kirkland)
- Sen. Andy Billig (D – Spokane)
- Sen. Doug Ericksen (R – Bellingham)
- Sen. Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens)
- Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D – Seattle)
Thanks to our sponsors for their generous support:
- Olympia Trip sponsor: Sunshine Disposal & Recycling
- Orientation Lunch sponsor: University of Washington
- Grand Reception sponsor: Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane