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By Dave Paul 

Our democracy at work


Our town hall meetings aren’t that different from what happens in the House and Senate in Olympia.

People share their opinions – sometimes softly, sometimes loudly. Yet the kind of dialogue we have—and the attitude we bring to that conversation—determines everything else.

It was an honor to host two bipartisan town hall meetings in March and to listen to your ideas, stories and questions. Every town hall is unique, because every community has different issues and ideas. What is the same each time is a shared passion for their neighborhood, their schools and their local businesses.

I try to listen to everyone with respect, because standing up and speaking out takes courage, especially if an issue is controversial.

The trick is to share our strong opinions without making it heated – and being able to move onto the next topic so that others can be heard, too. And I appreciate how people have done that at our town halls.

Because even our best friends and family members won’t agree with us on every issue. My wife will tell you that I’m wrong about some (perhaps many) things.

The same thing is true in Olympia. We are constantly talking about controversial issues and having tough debates. Some of the hardest debates are with people you usually agree with on issues.

Right now, we’re in the most contentious part of session, with the fate of every bill being decided on the floors of the House and Senate.

Both chambers have also released proposed operating, construction and transportation budgets.

You might be surprised to learn how bipartisan these budgets really are, especially the construction and transportation budgets. Sometimes, they pass unanimously. That is because we make a huge effort to listen to each other with respect and to craft budgets that build schools and parks and roads in every corner of our state.

Because, it doesn’t matter whether a district has Republican or Democratic lawmakers. We need great public schools, community colleges and universities throughout the state, along with a highway system and ferry network that connects all 39 counties.

Budget highlights

Here are a few projects I championed that I believe are especially important to our community.

• We can do more to help students earn college and vocational credits while still in high school. I’m proud that the House Operating Budget includes my request to fund the Northwest CTE Dual Credit project to increase credential attainment for high school students in professional technical programs.

• The House Transportation budget includes my request for $2.1 million to complete the Mount Vernon Library Commons, including the installation of electric vehicle infrastructure. This project will benefit our entire region and I’m excited to help secure this critical funding.

• Finally, I have heard from many of you about ensuring that the grant dollars awarded to the Museum of Northwest Art in 2021 are reappropriated for 2023. I’m pleased to report that House Capital budget reappropriates the funds, so that this important work can be completed.

As we negotiate with the Senate in the coming weeks, I will continue to advocate that these community programs and projects are included in the final budgets.


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