Starting this coming Monday, the legislature will have the opportunity to put the final (and most critical) touches on two issues PSE has been lobbying for over the last 24 years: affordable quality health care for all classified employees, and, paraeducator training. At the same time, they will be taking up consideration of funding for our higher education employees collective bargaining agreements (including their insurance funding), union rights in the Janus environment, and workplace safety.
On health insurance, we were pleased when on December 13, 2018, Governor Inslee’s Budget funded the SEBB coalition insurance agreement. PSE will be lobbying the legislature to join him and provide the same funding. There’s much at stake since no State in the Nation is offering the same State funding for school employee insurance benefits for all employees who work 630 hours of more per year. If the legislature agrees with Governor Inslee, 9,000 classified employees and 30,000 of their dependents are going to get insurance they never could afford before.
Over the last several years, PSE’s efforts to increase State recognition for the important role paraeducators play on the instructional team has been successful. So much so that the National Center for Paraeducators decided to have their annual conference in Seattle to share with National organizations what we have accomplished. All of our efforts now come down to convincing the legislature to again agree with Governor Inslee and provide $25 million per year for the next four years to train all 28,000 paraeducators. If we are successful, paraeducators will get 28 hours of paid training each year over the next four years. And again, we will be leading the Nation since no State comes anywhere close to providing the paraeducator training Washington will be providing.
However, as you can tell, this may be a historic year. But it will depend upon PSE’s advocacy efforts over the next 105 days.
I hope you will join us and make history for all classified employees.