Victory for mental health supports; COLAs still on the line
Taking Action in Olympia, Session Week 8
With the last floor cutoff at tonight, many educator priorities move forward
Thousands of WEA members spoke up for our students this legislative session and it shows. Since Tuesday, both the House and Senate have been in a final push to pass legislation before tonight’s cutoff and WEA members have made sure legislators know what our students need.
The Senate passed:
Increasing funding for school counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists (HB 1664)*
- K-12 school funding stabilization (HB 1590)*
- Expanding student loan forgiveness for nurse educators (HB 2007)
- Requiring that active shooter drills are trauma-informed and age-appropriate (HB 1941)
- Making higher education more accessible (HB 1835* and HB 1659*)
- Expanding broadband access (HB 1723)*
- Making Juneteenth a school holiday (HB 1617)
- Increasing language access services for communication with families and schools (HB 1153)*
The House passed:
- Investing in school seismic and tsunami safety (SB 5933)
- Updating higher ed faculty ethics rules (SB 5854)
- Retiree plan 1 COLAs (SB 5676)
- Expanding apprenticeships (SB 5600* and SB 5764*)
- Supporting financial literacy education (SB 5720)*
- Expanding visual and performing arts instruction (SB 5878)*
- Improving public service loan forgiveness (SB 5847)*
* Bills amended in the opposite chamber which must go back to their chamber of origination for concurrence or conference.
Governor Inslee had a bill signing today that included:
- Creating training for school districts on consulting Indigenous tribes (SB 5252)
- Expanding access to free school meals (HB 1878)
COLAs now in conference committee budget negotiations
More than 2,000 of us wrote to our legislators calling for adequate COLAs and we have to keep it up! We won’t know the status of K-12 COLAs until the conference committee introduces its budget. When the conference committee began its work, the House had adequate 5.5% COLAs but the Senate didn’t. We need to keep up the pressure-- send your lawmakers an email now.
Community and technical college COLAs, which are not as far behind inflation as K-12, are already set at 4.7% this year and are expected to be 5% next year.
Judge sides with ultra-wealthy and rules against capital gains tax
We took one step in that direction of balancing our upside-down tax code when we passed a tax on extraordinary capital gains profits last year but Tuesday a conservative judge ruled against that tax. While it's frustrating that a judge would side with the ultra-wealthy, we won't let this deter our campaign to balance our tax code.
Every day we see students who can't learn because of unmet needs, yet billionaires are paying less in taxes than our students' families. Our voices are critical to urging lawmakers and our communities to act to address our unfair taxes. Be a part of WEA's revenue action team and speak out for a fair tax code.
Mask mandate lifting on March 12; New Guidance Coming
With the support of public health experts, Governor Inslee announced on Monday that he is moving up the date of lifting the mask mandate in schools and other indoor places to March 12. The Department of Health will release new COVID safety guidelines for schools next week. The responsibility for protecting communities from COVID now falls to county health departments, which can act appropriately based on local hospitalization and case rates.