Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are approaching the final weeks of the 2017 legislative session. Our focus for the remainder of our 105-days is to pass balanced and sustainable operating, transportation and capital budgets.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus' proposed 2017-19 operating budget appropriates $43 billion. This is an increase in spending of roughly 14 percent over the current budget. With this plan, education is the number one priority. Education investments will be over 50 percent of the budget. This is the highest it has been since 1983. There are no new tax increases. This budget proves that government can live within its means when it prioritizes spending and current revenues.
This proposal also funds public safety. Although a consensus hasn't been reached this session on the use of deadly force by law enforcement, this budget slowly paves the way to a solution by including funding for eight new law enforcement classes for 'deadly force' training.
The proposal is sustainable. It recognizes that extra money coming into the state is from you, the hardworking taxpayers. The extra funding shouldn't be used to create more government programs. It is important to remember that even though this budget proposes some good things, there is still a lot of work to do to find the best solution for our state. This budget passed the Senate chamber on a party-line vote, 25-24.
In contract, the House Democrat's proposed 2017-19 budget appropriates $45 billion, increasing state spending by 17 percent! This operating budget proposal is a “can't-say-no” approach to spending that is fiscally irresponsible and unviable. In fact, the rate of increased spending significantly outpaces the earning rate of those asked to pay for it – meaning you the taxpayer – at a time when state revenues are at historic levels.
House Democrats want to spend more than $51 billion in the 2019-21. Here's some perspective into what I am talking about. Our state spending was under $39 billion in 2015-17 and $31 billion in 2011-13. At $51 billion, the House Democrat's proposal will have increased state spending by $20 billion in just 8 years!
This proposal is full of tax increases. It raises taxes by $3 billion for the 2017-19 cycle and $5 billion for the 2019-21 cycle. That's an $8 billion increase in taxes over the next four-years. Some of the areas you will see an increase in taxes include a 20 percent business and occupation (B&O) tax on day cares, hospitals and grocery distribution – some of the places your family depends on the most. It also creates a capital gains income tax – a tax that could be ruled unconstitutional, is volatile, and is the first step toward a state income tax. You, the citizens of Washington state, have made it very clear you don't support a state income tax. This budget would also leave only $12 million for an ending-fund balance over the next four years. This is risky and unsustainable. House Republicans brought forward 41 amendments to make this budget better. Only six were accepted. This is a terrible budget. It passed the House on a party-line vote, 50-48.
There is good news in all of this – now that the operating budget has passed both chambers, the serious negotiations can begin. With your help, I believe we can defeat these unnecessary tax increases, prioritize spending, and meet our financial obligations. I am confident we can pass a balanced, reasonable and sustainable budget on time.
For more information on the operating budget, please watch my recent legislative video update.
In the coming weeks, the House will vote on the state's transportation and capital budgets. I will keep you posted on the details of these budgets as they continue to roll out and round the final corners of the legislative process. Stay tuned!
My number one task and goal is to serve you, the citizens of the 8th District, and Washington state. Your opinion, concerns and ideas are VERY important to me!
It's an honor to serve you. May God bless you, your families, and these wonderful United States of America! I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Washington day!