It’s day 75 of the legislative session and the pace just continues to accelerate, with 30 days remaining for lawmakers to pass crucial policies and make difficult budget decisions. Maybe the cherry blossoms and the sun coming out have provided added momentum, because as we spring toward the end of session, some of our key efforts that were once at risk of slowing down or stalling now seem to be getting a second wind. But we’ve got to keep pushing, so updates and action items are below!
Although our two priority policies did not advance as bills, we are excited to share that the elimination of remaining juvenile legal fines and fees, originally part of SB 5474, has been included as an amendment to HB 1169, the Legal Financial Obligations bill that we’ve been watching and supporting. HB 1169 passed out of the Senate Law & Justice committee on Wednesday night and will now need to be heard and passed out of the Senate Ways and Means committee by April 4th.
Upon passage of the bill, this would in effect fully eliminate all juvenile fines and fees for young people adjudicated in juvenile court in Washington State! We’re grateful for and standing in solidarity with lawmakers and community members who saw the opportunity to get juvenile fines and fees off the books this session.
Hope remains for Ninth Grade Success Teams as well, originally SB 5408. Right now we’re ramping up our advocacy, urging lawmakers to fund the Ninth Grade Success Teams approach in the upcoming biennium budget. Kia from Stand and Henterson from CHSS testified today at the Senate Budget Hearing, and we ask that you please consider joining in this effort as well by calling your Senator today!
For added context, the Senate budget proposal came out yesterday on the heels of an updated revenue forecast indicating lower-than-anticipated state revenues in the coming years. The forecast included a reduction in state general fund dollars by about $407 million in the next two years. This painted a rather dim picture for funding requests. Which is why your voice is going to be essential in amplifying and ensuring that the Ninth Grade Success Teams approach be included in the budget.
We need you! Be a part of this important advocacy!
To end on good news: Other education priorities we are tracking – including eliminating fees for college in the high school (SB 5048) and establishing a digital platform for high school and beyond plans (SB 5243) – continue to move through the process and received funding in the budget proposal!
Next up: We’ll see the House budget proposal on Monday, and lawmakers in both chambers will then spend the rest of session working through the budget differences and developing a final budget proposal. We’ll be sure to keep you posted along the way.
Thank you for your advocacy and for staying in community with us this session! Happy Spring!