Taxes, healthcare, school funding to be addressed at upcoming legislative session

    Taxes, healthcare, school funding to be addressed at upcoming legislative session.

    YAKIMA, Wash.- Time is ticking until the next legislative session starts for Washington state.

    Among the many issues to be discussed include: taxes, adding more doctors and funding for public schools.

    District 15 Representative Bruce Chandler said the state has seen millions of more dollars than expected come into its coffers.

    So, chandler said he wants to focus on limiting tax increases. Especially for working families.

    “I think that they haven't had the opportunity to really improve their standard of living as much as I think they should,” he said.

    When it comes to school funding, last year the McCleary decision flooded public schools with millions of dollars in extra money.

    Which led to teacher strikes across the state. Picketing for bigger salaries.

    “I think we were given information that wasn't totally correct and that's our fault. Nobody else's fault. It's not yours,” former district 14 Rep. Norm Johnson said.

    He won't be making the trip to Olympia this year due to his retirement, but said the current legislators need to find a sustainable way to fund public education going forward.

    Johnson said not every school will be able to keep up with the salary increases for its staff.

    “It's nothing that's insurmountable. We saw near strike. We saw strikes in the state. That shouldn't happen. It's not fair to the students and it's not fair to the teachers,” he said.

    Another issue seen across the state, but especially in Yakima county, is the lack of doctors.

    Johnson said healthcare has always been something he's fought to improve and hopes the new representatives will continue to help get funding to schools like PNWU.

    To give smaller cities like Yakima a way to train and keep doctors local.

    “We need doctors and we know we do. We're going to see half of the present medical staff retiring within just a few years. So, we need a replacement,” Johnson said.

    Chandler said they also hope to tackle the opioid crisis that's affecting the state.

    So, there's no shortage of important topics the legislators are going to have to tackle.

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