State lawmakers got important work done during the most recent legislative session.
Just ask state Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, whose 31st District seat represents the south half of Auburn, at the foot of Lakeland Hills.
“From a personal perspective, it was a great session simply because we got out on time,” Stockbreeder told the Auburn City Council on Monday night, noting the first time the stars have so aligned during his four sessions in Olympia.
In 2017, the state Legislature infamously failed to pass a capital budget, which the water-related, Hearst and Foster court decisions held up for more than a year in tense, tough negotiations, Stokesbary said.
But Olympia got it done this session.
The result is a capital budget that provides half a million dollars for Nexus Youth and Family Services of Auburn to install a new heating and ventilation system and another $600,000 to $700,000 to the Auburn Valley YMCA to help fund its campus expansion.
The 2018 capital budget, Stokesbary continued, provides $17 million in matching funds to the Auburn School District for construction of the new Olympic Middle School.
Stokesbary said Olympia also made investments in homelessness and mental health.
“We certainly have not solved the problem by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s a growing acknowledgement that it’s a regional problem and not a specific city’s problem,” Stokesbary said.
Stokesbary said lawmakers have had their eyes on the progress of a year-long pilot project in Snohomish County that received funding in the operating budget to integrate all of the organizations there that handle mental health and homelessness issues.
“As we are all learning, so much of this is connected,” Stokesbary said. “Not every homeless person has a behavioral-health disorder, not every person with a behavioral health disorder is homeless, but they’re connected, and the same thing with substance-use disorders.”
“I’m optimistic that in a year or two, (Snohomish County) will be able to show what we have all been theorizing: that a lot of these things work better when there’s some sort of a continuity there, and that that will provide impetus to us in Olympia to do a better job integrating these things,” Stokesbary said.
Finally, Stokesbary turned to the state’s unwillingness to fairly share with communities marijuana-related tax revenues.
“The good news, I guess, is that we did not raid any of the (marijuana tax revenue) this year. The bad news is that the amount of marijuana revenue we’re sharing probably still doesn’t cover all the costs we are asking local law enforcement to deal with in terms of enforcing public prohibitions against smoking, dealing with all of the licensing issues and dealing with illegal-grow operations,” Stokesbary said.
“Just as your budget negotiations can be difficult, ours can, too, and it can be difficult to convince my colleagues to give up money on the table,” Stokesbary said.