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Rivers earns Crayon Award for work to promote early learning

Published on July 25, 2014

Sen. Ann RiversSen. Ann Rivers’ commitment to protect and grow early-learning programs in Washington has earned her a Silver Crayon Award from the Early Learning Action Alliance.

 

“It is always an honor to be recognized for the work we do in Olympia, but I am particularly proud of this award because it acknowledges the value and importance of investing in early learners, particularly those kids who start out with the odds stacked against them,” said Rivers, R-La Center.

 

“In a perfect world, a child would have two parents who are actively involved in its life, but the reality is that that doesn’t always happen. I have spoken time and again about the responsibility of legislators to take care of our most vulnerable, and as a state we need to make sure the necessary supports are in place from the very beginning because every child deserves the chance to succeed in life.”

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OIC whistle-blower “investigation” results clearly not independent contends Becker

Published on July 25, 2014

Sen. Randi Becker, R-2Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville and chair of the Senate Health Care committee made the following statement in response to the independent investigator’s report concerning claims made by hearings officer, Judge Patricia Petersen that the agency’s second-in-command was improperly exerting influence on several of her cases:

“From the beginning, I knew that by placing one of the parties on leave and not the other, Commissioner Kreidler had already determined the outcome of this case. This report’s selective use of facts to reach its conclusion came as no surprise; it is a clear reflection of the agency culture Judge Petersen was fighting. The Commissioner determines how he wants his cases played out. We now know the Commissioner also determines how he wants his ‘independent investigations’ played out. The message is loud and clear, either follow Commissioner Kreidler’s directive or you’ll find yourself discredited and disciplined. Read more…

 

King questions timing of grain-inspection shutdown at Vancouver port

Published on July 24, 2014

king_300Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, made this statement regarding Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent decision to withdraw the Washington State Patrol security detail that had been escorting state grain inspectors to United Grain Corporation’s export terminal in Vancouver. The move has effectively brought grain exports from the terminal, site of an ongoing labor dispute, to a standstill.

 

“There is no doubt the lockout and subsequent labor negotiations involving United Grain and the union representing longshoremen have dragged on far too long. We can all agree that after a year and a half, it’s time for conciliation on both sides. However, wheat growers in my district and across central and eastern Washington are understandably frustrated that Governor Inslee made this move just as their crops need to be moving through the port and on to market. Read more…

 

Walla Walla Veterans’ Home earns federal funding

Published on July 17, 2014

Walla Walla Vet HomeThe long-awaited Walla Walla Veterans’ Home has been given the green light for construction thanks to the $23 million in required federal funds, which was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Mike Hewitt has been fighting for the veterans’ home at the state-level for the past several years.

“We are finally one step closer to making the Walla Walla Veterans’ Home a reality,” said Hewitt, R-Walla Walla. “There are some final details that still need to be worked out before construction can begin, but there is a lot of support to see this project through.

“It’s been an honor to work on legislation that will make a huge impact for the 50,000 veterans and families in Walla Walla and the surrounding area. Not only will the 80-bed facility support the state’s military men and women and their families, it will also create about 100 permanent jobs.”

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Bailey: Adopting increase in life expectancy is step in right direction for state pension fund

Published on July 17, 2014

Bailey says ‘more work must be done to fill gap in future pension liabilities to protect taxpayers’

Today’s vote by the state Select Committee on Pension Policy recommends that the Pension Funding Council adopt an increase in life expectancy for public employees and is a “step in the right direction,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, chair of the committee. “The time for using outdated formulas and skipping payments has passed. We need to get real with taxpayers about how we plan to fully fund state pensions and meet our obligation to retirees.”

The Select Committee sent the Pension Funding Council an extensive report by State Actuary Matt Smith that outlines a future shortfall of $4.4 billion based on the new life-expectancy levels. Men turning 65 today are expected to live to an average age of 84 years and women to an age of 86 years. For those state employees who retire 20 years from now, those numbers will increase by another year.

“The good news is that people are living a lot longer. The bad news is that pension contributions and policy are not keeping up with that reality,” said Bailey. “The budget implications and impact on taxpayers are enormous. Simply put, we can pay now, or pay a lot more down the road. The funding gap only gets worse over time.”

Bailey added that she hoped members of the Select Committee would recommend the added policy changes and rates that fit the new lifespan realities. “This was a consensus vote that moves us in the right direction and puts members of the Pension Funding Council and Legislature on notice that it is time for a reality check,” said Bailey, “However, there is still more work to be done and waiting for a financial crisis is not the way to deal with the problems.”