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The Impact – House Speaker and Republican Leader Reflect on 2022 Session

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

This week on The Impact House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm) share their main takeaways from the 2022 Legislative Session in separate interviews.

Watch the full interview here:

Keep reading for a sample of what each leader said.

House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma)

“I think last year was actually an enormously productive session for the state legislature and in a short 60 day session, like what we just finished, it’s hard to top that. And it’s kind of amazing to think about the fact that we have we’ve made historic accomplishments this session in all kinds of areas. For House Democrats, we really focused on four primary areas. The first was strengthening the economic well-being of Washingtonians. And, you know, we did everything from expanding the number of nurse educators that we’ll have out there, because of a loan program we’re going to and a grant program we’re going to extend to them, to making sure we expand charity care so we have fewer Washingtonians who have to worry about getting health care and the costs of health care. We did tons of things in higher ed on student loans, a 1% student loan that we’ll start to be able to give to folks and as well as expanding the Washington College Grant, and then also helping students apply for financial aid so that they can have access to those things. So that’s a big piece of work that we did. We also worked really hard to make sure that we are serving Washingtonians better and this,  this has so many kind of topic areas that we worked in. Everything from making sure that our voting places and our school board meetings are safe and don’t have weapons in them to keep our democracy strong. We did a bill that prohibited the carrying of firearms into those kinds of places, but we did work on student behavioral health, mental health needs, and investing in those needs and teacher shortages, really a lot related to rebuilding our education system after two years of shut down. And then our two other big areas were advancing racial equity and again in the schools we provide, we had a bill from Tina Orwall that advances language access in schools so that all parents can really participate in their kid’s education, and strengthening recruitment of a diverse candidates for our state patrol so that our Washington State Patrol actually reflects the people who live in this state. And then on climate crisis, people would probably say that it’s our transportation package that is the biggest advance on the climate crisis. But we also passed a number of pieces of legislation there. And then we had a historic capital budget and a historic operating budget in which we’re investing in Washington families across the board in so many ways. . .”

House Speaker Laurie Jinkins on The Impact March 16th, 2022

House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm)

“Well, I think there’s some major disappointments. First of all, there was a huge surplus left in the general fund about ten times greater than has been the record in the past, around $15 billion over four years, and almost every dime was spent. And almost none of it was sent back to the taxpayers. We think that there was a big opportunity to really reset the way that we do things in Washington. And instead, it was all spent and not spent in a strategic direction, but funding a bunch of new programs, expanding old ones, and that, I think, is something that we’re going to regret in the future when the economy is not quite so good. The other disappointment, I think, has to do with the other major budget that we do in Washington and that is transportation. Traditionally, transportation has been a very bipartisan approach. They’re often passed with a unanimous vote and packages of new investments have been worked out with people from clear across the state. And in the end, even the revenue has been broadly agreed upon. Even though my seatmate, Andrew Barkis, who is our House Republican lead on transportation, rolled out a major new package that didn’t require any new taxes in December, he was kept completely out of the negotiation. In fact, he saw the package that was proposed by the two democratic chairs about ten minutes after the press availability had started. That’s a sad break with tradition and I don’t think that it sets a good example for the future.” “Before the session, we agreed that one of the, in fact, often the major concern for people in the state of Washington is that we have a shortage of housing and B: the housing that we have is unaffordable for many people. And I think there was kind of broad agreement that there’s about 250,000, there’s a shortage of about 250,000 homes. That’s 250,000 families that don’t have a place to live, that should have a place to live. And I gave the same speech, probably four or five times this year as we passed bills. Isn’t it a tragedy that instead of passing a bill that would make it less complicated and less expensive to build any kind of housing, we’re passing bills that make it more expensive and more complicated in terms of regulation to build that housing? I think that was a total failure on the part of the Legislature. There was one bill that died. It was controversial. It wasn’t perfect, but I passed the message on that we had 20 votes in the Republican caucus to at least advance it – it was the missing middle bill – at least advance it so that we can try to turn it into something that would work, and that one died without ever getting a floor vote.”

House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox on The Impact March 16th, 2022

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