Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Hello from Olympia! I'm your state representative, Mike Volz, of the 6th Legislative District in Spokane County. It's an honor serving you in the state House of Representatives.
When I was elected, I said I would work toward solutions to prioritize K-12 education in the state budget, exercise fiscal responsibility when allocating funding to state programs and services, and bring jobs and economic certainty to Spokane County and the state. I've been assigned to serve on the House Appropriations (which considers the state operating budget) and Education committees. This way, I get two bites out of the “McCleary” apple, which is front and center this legislative session. More about that below.
In addition, I was appointed to serve as the assistant ranking Republican on the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee, which considers issues related to agency rulemaking, public disclosure, government transparency, campaign finance and elections, performance audits, and much more. Serving in this role, I'm able to work with the ranking Republican and committee chair on agendas and other matters to be considered before the committee.
The 2017 legislative session is underway and scheduled to adjourn April 23. Chief among what we must accomplish this session is a new, two-year state operating budget. With McCleary topping everyone's priority lists, ensuring we adequately fund K-12 schools and have enough left over to fund essential programs and services is crucial.
To some, “McCleary” has become a household name. It refers to a 2012 state Supreme Court decision in which it was ruled the state was failing to fulfill its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education. Since then, the Legislature has come a long way. Now, more than 48 percent of the state operating budget is dedicated to K-12 education, and we've implemented full-day kindergarten, provided teacher raises, and reduced class sizes in grades K-3.
This session is about laying the final pieces to the McCleary puzzle. That means finding a constitutional funding source for our schools. As it is now, the Court has ruled districts are too reliant on local property tax levies and the state needs to foot a larger portion of the bill. Thus far, several proposals have come to the table. While it's encouraging these conversations are happening early in the session, no one proposal is perfect and all four caucuses must come together to hash out a plan.
The two proposals gaining the most traction so far are the House Democrat and Senate Republican plans. For a comparison of the two, click here.
House Democrats pass education-funding bill without identifying the means to pay for it
This week, the House Democrats' education-funding bill passed the House on a party-line vote. I have a number of concerns with their proposal, chief among them being they have yet to say how they plan to pay for it. When we're considering a proposal to the tune of $11 billion, I think we owe it to taxpayers to let them know how we plan to (or how we plan to have them) pay for it. It's clear $11 billion won't come from cost savings alone.
I raised these concerns in a House floor speech, during which I advocated for a Republican amendment that would have nullified the bill until a funding source(s) was specified. You can watch that speech here or by clicking below.
We're still left wondering how they plan to pay for their bill. All we do know is these are the taxes they've proposed to date.
Bills I'm working on
Rep. Mike Volz drops House Bill 1737 with Michael Scott, lobbyist for the Associated Students of Central Washington, and James Moschella, lobbyist for the University of Washington-Seattle Graduate and Professional Students. Michael is a freshman at Central Washington University and is pursuing a degree in political science and marketing, while James attends the University of Washington and is working on attaining his master in public administration.
Since beginning my term, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the two caucuses in the House work together despite political and philosophical differences. I've signed on to a number of bills with both Republican and Democrat sponsors. Two bills I've sponsored are still moving through the process, as well — House Bills 1737 and 1820.
I talk about some of the bills I'm working on in my most recent video update, which you can watch here or by clicking on the image below.
Meeting with young talent and aspiring leaders in Olympia
I had the privilege of speaking with some of Washington's emerging leaders this month — students participating in the Legislative Page Program. Each week, 30 or more students come to Olympia to get a front-row seat to their state government by participating in the program. During their week at the Capitol, pages deliver important documents to legislators and staff, meet with representatives and senators from around the state, attend page school and participate in a mock committee hearing.
If you know a student between the ages of 14 and 16 that would be interested in the program, click here to learn more and download an application.
Keeping in touch throughout the legislative session
There are a number of ways you can stay connected to your state Legislature:
Visit my website — By visiting RepresentativeMikeVolz.com, you can learn more about me, news and issues I'm involved in and contact me using an online form. By clicking “Sponsored Bills” on my page, you can also see the bills I've sponsored and co-sponsored this session.
Watch TVW — Want to watch a committee or floor action live, as it happens? Watch TVW or stream online at tvw.org.
Visit leg.wa.gov — For information about all of the bills before the Legislature, committee agendas, visitor information and more, visit the Legislature's official website at leg.wa.gov.
Of course, the easiest way to let me know how you feel about issues before the Legislature is to contact me and my legislative assistant, Phillip, directly. You can reach us by calling (360) 786-7922 or sending an email to Mike.Volz@leg.wa.gov.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Olympia!