Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are just weeks away from completing the 2015 regular session. I believe we are making progress, and will be able to do the work necessary to adjourn on time without going into special session. Last week, the budget proposed by House Democrats passed the House on a 51-47 vote along party lines. While I am pleased this budget addressed priorities such as mental health services and did not include Gov. Inslee's carbon tax plan, I have several concerns and voted against it.
I believe this budget will hurt our recovering economy and is not in the best fiscal interest of Washington state and the 8th District. This proposed budget increases spending by nearly 15 percent over the current biennium. It also does not balance without raising taxes on the hard-working people of Washington state. This is especially concerning given a $3 billion increase in revenue for the 2015-17 budget cycle. Given this growth in revenue, I believe we have the means to pass a responsible, sustainable and balanced budget without relying on tax increases.
Increasing taxes should be a last resort. But this plan includes $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes. I have heard from many of you that government needs to prioritize spending and live within its means, just like families all across the state. Many are still recovering from the last recession, and I do not believe we encourage recovery or economic growth and prosperity by increasing taxes.
The House operating budget proposal relies on 10 tax increases the House majority party says are necessary to fund basic education under the McCleary decision. But their proposals, including a tax on capital gains income, bottled water, online sales, and others, fail to meet an important requirement of McCleary. The Supreme Court ruled basic education must be funded using “regular and dependable sources of revenue.” Taxes can and have been repealed by Washington voters in the past. Just a few years ago, Washington voters repealed the bottled water tax with a 60 percent majority.
Our constitutional mandate is clear: funding basic education is our paramount duty. I believe the best way to address this is by funding education first. With $3 billion in additional revenue growth, we have the means to meet this important obligation without raising taxes.
The Senate plan laid out a different path for us to consider. This option proposes government can meet its obligations, fully fund education, improve mental health services, restore cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for teachers and other state employees and reduce college tuition without raising taxes. The goal is to prioritize spending and properly focus on our obligations first. I believe this is the best path forward for our state.
Now that both the House and Senate have passed their spending plans, the work of negotiating a final budget will begin. I am hopeful we can negotiate and pass a budget that balances without raising taxes. Like the majority of people in the 8th District, I believe it is time for government to prioritize spending and live within its means. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature in order to pass a budget that respects taxpayers and meets our obligations.
I encourage you to contact me with your concerns, questions, and comments as the budget moves through the Legislature. This budget will be the largest in state history, and you should have a say in the fiscal future of our state government. I look forward to hearing from you on this important issue.
As we approach the end of the 2015 legislative session, I am looking forward to getting back to our district for the rest of the spring, summer and fall. Although I will have many obligations away from home during that time, if you would like me to visit your community group, school or business, or with you personally, I would love to do so. I always enjoy spending time in our community, and hearing directly from you. Please contact my office to make arrangements.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you! May God richly bless you! Have a great Washington Day!