This past weekend I made the decision not to seek re-election to the state Senate in the 48th Legislative District. After a series of events that have impacted my family and health, the decision not to run is the right one for me and my family.
Since the end of session, I have continued to work through some health issues, but the main reason for my decision is my 85-year old father who was hit by a car last week while walking in a grocery store parking lot. He’s going to require a lot of physical therapy over the next several months and I’m the only son who lives close to him. I have always said that health and family are the most important values — and beyond campaign slogans — I really do try to live by those values.
It has been an incredible honor to serve in the Legislature and to serve the people of the 48th district over the past 12 years. Working with the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) and serving as the Majority Leader, has been historic for Washington and an opportunity of a lifetime for me personally.
I am very proud to have worked with such talented and dedicated individuals. We have changed how things get done in Olympia by focusing on jobs, requiring a sustainable budget that empowers our economy, and making education a priority with real action from pre-kindergarten programs to the first college tuition freeze in 26 years.
The MCC has proven that when our public leaders stay true to core principles and to what really matters on Main Street, the people of Washington benefit most of all.
Senate Majority Leader
Change in high school graduation requirements means better outcomes for students
OLYMPIA…Students in Washington State will soon have new graduation requirements aimed at improving their success after high school. Governor Inslee signed Senate Bill 6552 into law which increases the number of credits required to graduate from high school to 24 credits, and provides funds to do so. The law directs the State Board of Education to develop rules regarding the changes for the graduating class of 2019.
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue was a key sponsor of the legislation to improve student achievement. “We really need to make sure our students are prepared for an increasingly challenging work environment. By making sure students have a well-rounded education and a solid foundation in the basics, we will be setting our students up to compete in a highly competitive global economy,” said Tom
The law also makes needed enhancements to school funding formulas for secondary schools by expanding the number of science lab classes, increasing counselors and allocations for maintenance, supplies and operating costs.
‘It’s a pay raise for lawmakers and that’s just wrong as people struggle in a weak economy’
OLYMPIA…Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, called today’s vote in the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee to raise the daily-expense allowance for state senators a “big disappointment,” and, “a pay raise for lawmakers at a time when people continue to struggle in a weak economy.” In a contentious 4-3 vote, the proposed increase in the per diem rate from $90 per day to $120 passed the bipartisan committee with Tom voting in opposition to the increase.
“I have been consistent in calling for fiscal responsibility and fairness in Olympia. We can’t ask teachers and state employees to forgo pay increases and then turn around and give ourselves an increase. Jumping to the front of the line is not showing real leadership and that’s why I voted no,” Tom said.
In a request to the Secretary of the Senate, Tom has already asked to keep his per diem at the current lower rate of $90 per day during the next legislative session.
Tom added that he is aware that many legislators rely on per diem to offset travel expenses, “but now is not the time to put legislators above teachers and other state employees when it comes to increasing compensation.
The per diem payments are used by legislators to cover costs for travel, food and lodging when on legislative business. Legislators may independently choose whether to submit reimbursement requests. The action by the committee increased the amount that legislators may receive, effectively resulting in a pay raise.
We only have 10 days left in this legislative session to be done on time. Yesterday we passed the Supplemental Budget with a bipartisan 41-8 vote. This is a great budget for all of education. It maintains our focus on creating an educated workforce so our companies have plenty of talented new hires, keeping their growth here instead of looking elsewhere.
I continue to work hard advocating for common sense policies that will bring growth to our state and put our children’s education first. As the Senate finishes up public hearings on House bills and start to vote, be assured that I am thinking about all of you who have reached out and made your voice heard. Click here to read the rest of this newsletter.