Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Since my last e-mail update many different budget proposals have been introduced. Last Friday, House Democrats passed their proposed operating budget through an amendment to Senate Bill 5034 on a near party-line vote, 54-43. One Democrat voted no. I voted against the proposed budget because when I think about how it would impact the people in my district and around the state it is very concerning. The budget will ask more from you, the taxpayers, at a time when the federal government is already asking more and our economy is still crawling along in many areas of the state. Other reasons I voted no include:
- This is a tax-and-spend proposal that would spend more and save less than any other proposal introduced;
- It would raise taxes by $1.3 billion and increase spending by 10 percent when tax revenues are expected to grow by 6.6 percent, or nearly $2 billion, in the next budget cycle without tax increases;
- Tax increases would affect trucking, janitorial services, insurance, high-tech research and development, architects, prescription drugs and travel agent industries. It would extend taxes to all types of beer, and place a sales tax on bottled water (the same tax voters repealed by initiative in 2010);
- The proposed tax increases would make it harder for our employers, particularly our small-business owners, to hire and create jobs; and
- It would completely drain the state's rainy day fund, leaving the state and its citizens vulnerable if there are unforeseen emergencies.
Gov. Inslee's proposed budget outline is very similar to the House Democrat plan – more taxes and increased spending.
Below is a chart showing the differences between the House Democrat, Gov. Inslee and Senate bipartisan spending plans:
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus's bipartisan operating budget proposal is not perfect, but it does represent many of our principles and priorities. It would not rely on tax increases and would spend $1.5 billion more on K-12 education for reforms and better student outcomes, $300 million more for higher education, and it balances the budget over four years. We can use the bipartisan work done in the Senate and if the majority in the House is open to compromise reach a spending plan that will take care of our most vulnerable, keep our our citizens safe, and live up to our “paramount duty” outlined in the state constitution and fund education, without raising taxes. House Republican budget priorities have not changed: K-12 education; services for our most vulnerable and public safety. These are the issues that impact our citizens most.
The House passed a transportation budget, House Bill 1864, on Tuesday by a vote of 68-28. I opposed the proposal because:
- It does not take into account any of the “Fix it before you fund it” reforms proposed by our caucus.
- The budget allocates $450 million for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) bridge despite very legitimate concerns about this project.
The public deserves accountability and taxpayer protections in our transportation budget when we are seeing huge, costly mistakes being made on mega projects and ferry construction, which has created a lack of confidence in our transportation department. You can read more about the budget and amendments my colleagues offered by clicking House snubs GOP amendments, OKs transportation budget (The Olympia Report).
Although I did vote against the transportation budget, I was able to get two amendments passed as part of the proposed spending plan.
- The first would require the the Joint Transportation Committee to look at potential savings and benefits by consolidating law enforcement and emergency dispatching centers within the state of Washington. The analysis would include reviewing what other states are doing and how they coordinate their dispatch centers.
- The second amendment that passed would exempt urban growth areas that have not previously implemented a commute trip reduction program from the requirement to do so.
The transportation budget is now in the Senate for consideration. However, it is important to point out, tomorrow House Democrats will unveil a new transportation funding plan that will include a new 10-cent gas tax increase proposal, increased fees on title transfers and registrations, and increased gross weight fee for commercial truckers. The public hearing will take place tomorrow (Friday, April 19) at 1:30 p.m.in House Transportation Committee in the John L. O'Brien Building Hearing Room B.
Cracking down on DUI offenders
As the ranking minority member of the House Public Safety Committee and a law enforcement officer with over 19 years of experience, I was recently asked by the governor to participate in a workgroup to strengthen our state's driving under the influence (DUI) laws. Our caucus has worked hard for many years to make our roads safer for you and increase penalties for repeat offenders, so I was pleased the governor asked that I be part.
Driving impaired is not just an issue dealing with those who are impaired, but it impacts many innocent people on our roadways, who by no fault of their own end up victims in horrific vehicle crashes that are totally, completely preventable! It is a serious problem. I am encouraged we will be able to strengthen our DUI laws so we can increase safety on our roads and highways.
To learn more about the governor's plan you can click Governor Jay Inslee and bipartisan group of legislators urge tougher DUI laws.
While free time for legislators during session is hard to come by, there are a few times during the 105-day session we do get to pause and take part in some great activities. An old tradition of the “Legislative Shootout” was revived for the first time in years. Given the amount of gun legislation introduced this year, it seemed like a good learning experience for legislators not familiar with firearms and a great way to bring legislators and staff, from the House and Senate, Republican and Democrat, together for a friendly shooting competition. The event was sponsored by several outdoor sporting groups.
Thursday, April 11, was beef day at the state capitol. Every year, the Washington State Cattleman's Association comes to Olympia for a day and barbeques beef for everyone. The beef is fantastic and it is a huge success. It is a great reminder to all the legislators in the state the importance of our farming and livestock industries and those who put food on our tables, in our grocery stores so we can feed our families, and families around the world. Our cattlemen deserve a great big thank you.
I hope you found this update informative. I love you all! Have a great Washington day!