Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have officially kicked off the 2018 legislative session here in Olympia. On Monday, Jan. 8, at noon, the first gavel went down on the House floor signaling that our 60-day session was open and operational. To give you a short civic lesson, in even-numbered years, our session is considered a 'short session' at 60 consecutive days. We will take this time to do supplemental work to our operating and transportation budgets. One of our former colleagues, Rep. Tom Huff, explained the supplemental budget process best; those issues most likely to be considered are if:
- It is an unanticipated, unmanageable change in an entitlement program workload or caseload.
- It corrects a serious technical error in the original appropriation.
- It deals with an emergency.
- It addresses an opportunity that will not be available in the next biennium.
In this legislative update, I will provide you with a session preview of some of the major issues you can expect us to address in the coming weeks and months.
First, I would like to take a moment to give my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of Daniel McCartney and the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. In the late hours of Sunday, Jan. 7, two burglary suspects in the Frederickson area opened fire and shot Deputy Daniel A. McCartney. He was killed in the line of duty in a senseless act of violence protecting the citizens of Pierce County. Deputy McCartney is a hero. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, three young sons, and all his loved ones. May God continue to watch over you and bring you peace after this horrific event. And, to all my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, thank you for your service. May God continue to bless and keep you! Thank you all for your service to the communities of our state and nation!
2018 legislative preview
Hirst and the capital budget
We left the 2017 session with unfinished business. The capital budget wasn't finalized and passed, leaving many public works construction projects around the state waiting. One very important issue indirectly left the capital budget at a stalemate.
Today, many rural property owners across our great state are not allowed to drill new wells on their property, as a result of a decision that came down from the state's Supreme Court – known as the “Hirst” decision. The impact this decision has made on our state is almost incomprehensible. This is the largest urban versus rural issue our state has tackled in decades. Let me provide you with some numbers:
- $6.9 billion. These annual dollars will be lost in economic activity.
- $4.5 billion. These annual dollars will be lost in our state's construction industry.
- 9,300. This is the number of jobs that will be lost in our rural communities over the next year.
- $452 million. These annual dollars will be in lost employee wages.
- $37 billion. These dollars will be the lost property values in areas impacted by Hirst.
- $346 million. These dollars will be property taxes that are shifted to other properties in Washington – rural areas will receive the brunt of higher property taxes.
Here's another scenario to explain the importance of finding a long-term fix to Hirst. Urban dwellers can draw water from watersheds that rural areas cannot. This means you can build a 500-unit housing development in the Seattle area, drawing water from rural watersheds, but rural residents are restricted from building a single-family home on their land with a permit-exempt well needed to provide water to the home. Hirst says city development can continue to grow and flourish, with the same water being denied to our rural communities. This is not right and I will continue to fight hard to ensure we pass a long-term plan that benefits all our citizens.
McCleary and education funding
The Supreme Court ruling, known as the McCleary decision, will also be a familiar item on our 2018 agenda.
In 2017, lawmakers from both parties dramatically increased school funding without increasing the tax burden statewide. By allocating most of the state's fast-growing tax collections to K-12 education, the Legislature increased school funding by $8.4 billion dollars since 2013. These increases will be maintained into the future and will continue to grow another $4.6 billion in 2019-21.
The reason we will continue our work on McCleary is this. This fall, the state's Supreme Court declared our plan met the demands of the original McCleary decision to fully fund basic education. However, the high court believes the timeline in which we implemented our funding for teacher and staff salaries will not be implemented soon enough. What the high court would like is to implement one billion dollars of this funding by the start of the 2018-19 school year, not the 2019-20 school year as we envisioned. This recent order from the high court has put McCleary back on the agenda.
For more information on Hirst, the capital budget, and McCleary, I encourage you to watch my recent video update. You can do so by clicking on the photo below.
Stay in touch with me!
Throughout the legislative session, I hope you will take the time to call, email or visit me in Olympia. I welcome your thoughts and concerns on issues before the Legislature. I look forward to working with you and for YOU!
I know all of us don't always agree on everything all the time, but please know, I still value hearing from you! I enjoy our respectful dialogues, even when we don't agree on the issue.
Thank you again for the opportunity and the honor to serve you, your family, and our communities as your state representative.
May God richly bless you all! Have a great Washington day!