By AARP Advocacy Director Ingrid McDonald
The 2013 Washington State Legislative Session is over at last.
It took a long time and we faced the threat of a state government shut down, but there were a number of positive outcomes that AARP members and their families can be proud of.
This past fall, thousands of AARP members from across the state spoke with then Gov. Elect Jay Inslee on a special telephone town hall, where Inslee promised to increase funding for education but not at the expense of senior services. The budget he just signed does just that. Here’s a short list of highlights and a few disappointments.
- Medicaid expanded
- Dental benefits restored
- No cuts to home care hours
- Kinship Caregiver Program retained
- No reductions to pensions or health benefits for retired state workers
- Office of Public Guardianship reduced by half
- No new investments in APS / RCS investigators
- No new funding for Complete Streets
Click here for a detailed chart of the various proposed measures on these budget items, plus the final outcomes.
A New Focus on Preparing for the Age Wave
The budget signed into law yesterday includes the establishment of a two year Committee on Aging and Disability.
This Committee will be composed of four legislators from each party and four members of the administration and will convene by September 1st of this year. They are charged with identifying key strategic actions to prepare for the aging of the population in Washington.
Huge thanks to our legislative sponsors, Senator Barbara Bailey (R-10th) and Representative Steve Tharinger (D-24th) for their leadership in creating this committee.
Legislation Passed to Protect Consumers and Vulnerable Adults
Here’s a short description of key policy wins – bills that AARP supported because they will protect our members and their families:
- Long Term Care Insurance Consumer Protections, SB 5216
- Adult Family Home Resident Protections, SB 5630
- Neighborhood Safe Speeds, HB 1045
- Medication Access for the Uninsured, SSB 5148
- Protections for Vulnerable Adults, SB 5510
A Little Progress on Tax and Budget Fairness
Legislators failed to engage in meaningful discussion about structural tax reform and did not agree to close any of a long list of tax loopholes proposed by the Governor and House Democrats.
They did, however, take action on two tax measures including an estate tax fix (Bracken Decision) HB 1920 and telecommunications tax parity bill ESSHB 1971. Together these two actions raised $269 million and along with the better than expected revenue forecast helped lawmakers close the gap and end their budget stalemate.
The final budget also included ESSB 5882 which included a number of new tax breaks benefiting interests such as honey bee keepers, dance clubs and more but notably also included new tax exemption transparency and accountability measures, including clear definitions of the intent, measureable outcomes and expiration dates for all new or extended tax preferences.
The other key measure of progress on this front was the defeat of SB 5895 which called for an arbitrary spending limit on all non-education spending. AARP strongly opposed this bill which, if passed would have triggered deep cuts in vital public services critical to all generations.
Thank you from AARP
Thank you for your support and involvement this legislative session. The phone calls and e-mails you send to legislators make a big difference! Special thanks to those of you who attended our legislative luncheon in Olympia or found other opportunities to meet personally with your state lawmakers.
We especially want to highlight our appreciation of the work of the AARP Capitol Action Team, a group of dedicated, Olympia based volunteers who work as citizen advocates throughout the winter legislative session.
Please check back with this website often for ongoing advocacy opportunities on both state and federal policy issues of concern to AARP.
Ingrid McDonald, Advocacy Director