— from Dave Pringle, Senator Ranker’s Office —
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, released this statement [Monday]:
Protecting Immigrants’ Rights
Our values tell us to cherish and accept all people and protect the most vulnerable in our state, especially in the face of today’s national climate. Senate Democrats sponsored bills to protect our friends and family and live their lives free from fear and hate. We are proud to stand with those fearful of the federal administration’s immigration policy.
I co-sponsored Senate Bill 5689 to protect immigrants’ rights and support a thriving state economy through statewide policy that supports business and thousands of immigrants. Senate Republicans refused to hold a vote in committee, but Gov. Inslee signed an executive order last week modeled on the bill. Washington state will be a leader to our country in pushing back against Trump administration policies contrary to our values.
This year I sponsored a bipartisan proposal, Senate Bill 5357, to offer a four-year pilot program for outdoor early learning programs. This bill will help children get outside at an early age, letting them learn and thrive outdoors while preparing for their future. Based on a Scandinavian model, educators would lead children through exploration and hands-on learning for hours a day, entirely outside. The pilot puts these in-demand programs in Washington state on track to offer full-day programs. Early learning outdoor programs are a great way for families struggling to afford childcare to get their children into the outdoors with exceptional science and early education to improve their learning and become stewards of the environment. I hope to see this bill voted out of the Senate in the next weeks.
Education and our Budget
Our values tell us to help all our children in the classroom. Our policy and the state constitution demand that we fully fund education in our budget. Republicans and Democrats have both passed education plans. The Republican proposal raises property taxes and makes cuts elsewhere in the budget. Democrats believe we should find another revenue source instead of large property tax increases to fund our children’s schools. In the end, both sides are discussing significant investments in our schools but differ on how to pay. Democrats have formally requested negotiations to begin so every child in the state can have a quality education.
While negotiations continue, Senate Democrats intend to protect our children’s schools from an immediate loss of nearly $400 million in short term funding by passing a bill that would extend the so-called levy cliff — the expiration of school levies that would result in slashed budgets in districts across the state. We are calling on Senate Republicans to vote on the levy cliff now and avoid the biggest tax cut to schools in state history. In our district, that means nearly $9 million in money already approved by the voters. Our teachers and administrators need the security to do what they do best — teach. We intend to solve our long-term education needs by fully paying for basic education.
We live in one of the best states to raise a family, explore the outdoors, get an education and find meaningful work. We are leaders in the nation in many respects, but can always improve. By making smart choices of investment together, we can live up to our values and strengthen our communities.