Heading into his second term, Washington Legislative District 13 Representative Alex Ybarra’s priority areas include budget, Coronavirus impacts and agriculture related issues.
According to Ybarra, he received a revenue forecast on Sept. 23 that estimated the state in the hole $4.4 billion over the next three years instead of the previously estimated $8.8 billion. This means there will be less cuts to programs, projects and other services. Ybarra thinks that this new forecast could mean that cutting unnecessary spending could fix the issue instead of cutting funding from programs or raising taxes. He also noted that there is still $2.5 billion in the state’s rainy day fund.
The Coronavirus pandemic is another area that Ybarra wants to focus on in his second term in order to help bring things back to normal socially and economically. He has teamed up with the city of Quincy, members of the community and the county health department to help bring awareness by putting up “mask up” signs around town.
Regarding agriculture, Ybarra hopes to help deal with changing rules and guidelines from the state and health department for agriculture workers because of COVID-19 as well as navigate funding issues due to these changes. He also hopes to help facilitate the testing of all migrant workers through CARES Act funding before they leave in November. Due to a large majority of the migrant workers being from Mexico, Ybarra will be working with the Mexican Consulate to facilitate this testing.
He is working to get housing funding for low income families in the Quincy area and to fix farm worker housing that is not adequate for the coronavirus pandemic.
Some areas that Ybarra feels that he has done well on in his first year as a state representative include allocating capital funds for projects across the legislative district such as the George Community Center, Port of Quincy, renovation of downtown Cle Elum and a new building for the Ellensburg Food Bank.
He also supported a bill that would give college loans to DACA recipients because they do not receive state financial aid. This project would also mean that no money would be lost because they are loans and not grants, so the money would be paid directly back into the fund. This would give students the ability to attend college who could not otherwise get loans or afford college tuition outright.
A bilingual education initiative that he has also supported gives high school kids who are bilingual a path to get their teaching degree and it requires them to come back to Quincy and teach for five years. This not only helps the English Language Learner students but also encourages the teachers to stay in the area after they complete the five years. After they complete the program, their loans are forgiven.
In regards to what he could improve on, Ybarra said: “Everything; I think that I’m just learning the ropes right now. I could do things better because there’s so much to learn.”
Ybarra felt like he could be more knowledgeable about the different bills that he votes on, just this last session there were about 3,000 bills that hit the dockets, Ybarra said. He also said he could work across the aisle more as well.
Ybarra wants to continue to serve the people of district 13 because he feels like he is making a difference, and said that everybody across the district is important to him and he votes the way his district wants.
He is motivated by the support he has received so far and wants the people of the district to know he is here to help in any way he can. “If I know about it (an issue), I can and will do my best to help,” Ybarra said.