Serving Franklin County, WA

Schoesler: Address school maintenance

For the fifth straight year, I’ve introduced a bill that aims to help school districts in Washington address their building-maintenance needs.

Senate Bill 5403 would allow school districts to create a “depreciation subfund” that can receive a transfer of up to 2% of a school district’s general fund each fiscal year.

This bill would provide another path for school districts to handle building- or facility-maintenance needs. Sometimes it can be better for a school district to pay cash for a building repair or to set aside money for emergencies when they arise. Establishing this subfund, which is voluntary, is a way to help students learn in a healthy environment since school buildings would be in better condition.

School administrators have recognized the value of this proposal, and I’m optimistic that my colleagues in the Senate and House will agree and vote to approve it this year.

This bipartisan proposal has been assigned to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee for consideration.

During the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, the Senate twice easily passed an earlier version of this bill. Senate Bill 5202 reached the House Rules Committee and was placed on the House floor calendar in both sessions before stalling.

I introduced a similar measure during the 2019 and 2020 sessions, but it was not passed by the Senate.

I’m hoping this finally will be the year it is passed by the Legislature and signed into law.

Last week

It is common for members of the Senate and House to meet not only with constituents but also state agency officials or lobbyists to talk about bills, issues before the Legislature or about any of the three budgets (operating, capital and transportation).

The viewpoints and facts shared at these meetings are often very useful in crafting bills and figuring out how to best move them through the lawmaking process.

A person could guess pretty easily what my committee assignments are by looking at my office calendar for this second week of the session.

Many visitors wanted to talk about the capital budget, the operating budget, labor issues, concerns facing our state’s employer community, and sometimes a mix of those. There were also discussions about needs in our 9th District, which I particularly like to have.

On Monday, for instance, I had separate meetings with officials with the Washington Federation of State Employees, the Department of Labor and Industries and Office of State Actuary.

Tuesday’s meeting partners included Northwest Harvest, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy and one of our state’s leading employers, the Boeing Company.

My Wednesday meeting schedule included a meeting with the lobbyist for the city of Cheney to discuss issues involving that community, followed by chats with an official with the short-line railroads, and two Cougars: Washington State University President Kirk Schultz and WSU legislative affairs official Chris Mulick. Higher education was the topic in two meetings I had yesterday, one with Walla Walla University President John McVay, the other with University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce.

— Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, represents the 9th Legislative District. Email him at [email protected].


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