1. With six serious candidates running for the open state representative spot in the 43rd Legislative District (Capitol Hill, Wallingford, the U. District), the March fundraising numbers, to be reported early next month, will help voters get a better sense of the crowded field. Incumbent state Representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill), is giving up his seat to run for U.S. congress.
Two new candidates with formidable resumes just declared this month, transgender leader Danni Askini, who heads the Gender Justice League, and labor activist Marcus Courtney, with the AFL-CIO. Two other candidates, longtime homelesseness advocate Nicole Macri (also with an exceptional resume, including her job as the housing director at the Downtown Emergency Services Center) and civil rights attorney Daniel Shih, whose firm successfully defended the city against the U.S. chamber of commerce over the $15 minimum wage, are currently leading the pack in fundraising prior to the next report. Macri and Shih have both been in the race since February.
Macri has already raised $23,000, drawing largely from allies in the homelessness advocacy movement such all stars like Alison Eisinger, Mark Putnam, Daniel Malone, and a poignant $500 late February contribution from Bill Hobson, the Downtown Emergency Services Center icon who died in early March.
Trial lawyer and ACLU board member Shih, who’s relying largely on the contributions from the Asian community so far, is way out in front, having raised $48,000.
2. Speaking of Walkinshaw’s race for U.S. congress (longtime incumbent Jim McDermott, D-WA, 8, is retiring thanks to Walkinshaw’s startling move to jump in): His main opponent, state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle), was MIA on this week’s final state budget vote.
Asked about missing the vote, she was rumored to be fundraising in D.C., Jayapal explained she was speaking at the invitation from the Indian ambassador at the Indian embassy in D.C. about the “rising participation of South Asian Americans in our democracy.” Jayapal says the speech was intentionally scheduled in advance, nearly a month after the regular session was scheduled to end. When the special session began, she says, she alerted leaders to her prior commitment.
Jayapal adds that she would have voted no on the budget “because we are not only not meeting the mandates of funding public education, but we are taking steps backward.” Seventeen Democrats, including Seattle’s delegation, voted no in the 27-17 vote.
Walkinshaw voted yes in the lopsided 78-17 house vote, where mostly conservative dissidents rejected the deal.
3. Speaking of the budget: Yes, after failing to get their work done on time once again this year, the special session, which kicked off earlier this month when Democrats and Republicans couldn’t even reach a deal on the supplemental budget (the off-year tweaks to the $38.2 billion biennium budget), finally wrapped up yesterday. Democrats got some extra money for homelessness, though not from reserves, which the GOP said could only be used to help fight wildfires.
The Seattle Times has a good summary here.
And Democratic senate minority leader Sharon Nelson (D-34, West Seattle), referring to the fact that legislature is still facing a $3.5 billion gap on the looming McCleary mandate to fund public education, said there will be “a reckoning” next year,” and wrapped up this way:
Our work took too long – and really it is far from done. Since Republicans took over the Senate, we have averaged an extra 47 days to do the one task the Legislature is required to do – write a budget. Ideology has too often trumped compromise, and as a result it has taken far more effort than it should to do the work Washingtonians sent us here to do.
The legislature, which has put an additional $2.5 billion in aggregate since the 2012 McCleary mandate into the now $18.2 billion K-12 schools budget over the last three sessions toward meeting the court order, is still about $3.5 billion short on teachers’ salaries. It is also relying on about $3.6 billion per biennium in local levies which violates the court’s rule that the state is responsible for the K-12 tab. And the court is holding the state in contempt until they man up.
In addition to failing on McCleary again, another piece of education business left unfinished was the levy lid lift, which would allow local districts to raise more money for schools. Without the lift, which Democrats pushed, districts now face four percent cuts across the board, or roughly $462 million in lost revenue.