Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's been a busy week in Olympia. We just finished up with floor action last week. We passed 376 bills with 122 of them being sponsored by House Republicans. We're now in committees holding public hearings on Senate bills that have passed the Senate.
I want to remind you about my upcoming telephone town hall with Rep. Mary Dye next Thursday, March 23 from 6 – 7 p.m. You can call (509) 724-2970 to listen in. Once you're connected, you can press “star” (*) on your telephone keypad to ask a question. If you'd like, you can also click here to submit your questions to us beforehand. I hope you're able to join us.
Revenue forecast – more money coming into state coffers
We received an updated revenue forecast this week from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. Compared to the November forecast, we're expected to see about $258 million more for the remainder of the 2015-17 biennium, and about $313 million more for the 2017-19 biennium.
Here's a quick breakdown of the projected revenue growth (GF-S = General Fund, State):
- Forecasted GF-S revenue for the 2015-17 biennium is now $38.2 billion, an increase of 13.5% above the 2013-15 biennium.
- Forecasted GF-S revenue for the 2017-19 biennium is now $40.8 billion, an increase of 6.8% above the 2015-17 biennium.
- Forecasted GF-S revenue for the 2019-21 biennium is now $43.8 billion, an increase of 7.4% above the forecasted 2017-19 biennium.
The bottom line is that our economy continues to grow and legislators will have more tax dollars than previously anticipated. Which should lessen the call for new and increased taxes in Olympia.
I'm expecting we may see some preliminary budget proposals released next week now that the revenue forecast has been updated. Stay tuned for more budget info to come.
Health care reform – separating fact from fiction
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the recent health care reform proposal coming out of the other Washington. The current Obamacare system is unsustainable. We've seen escalating health insurance premiums, fewer health care choices for patients and companies leaving exchanges all around the country. In our state, we have 14 counties that have two or fewer insurers selling plans, two of which are in the 9th District.
This week, I joined House and Senate Republican leadership at a weekly media availability to try and spread word about some of the false assumptions and outright misinformation being shared by those opposed to health care reform. Some of the headlines I've read from daily newspapers around the state this week are flat out wrong.
I even issued a statement this week challenging the fear tactics being employed by Gov. Jay Inslee and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. Here's part of my statement:
“Governor Inslee and Insurance Commissioner Kreidler have also said that more than 700,000 Washingtonians would lose their health insurance. This faulty number assumes the majority of our state's expansion population will stop receiving benefits, which is a huge assumption. The ninety percent match rate provided by the federal government for these expanded populations will continue under the proposed legislation. Why would the state make any changes to the expansion population when the federal government has promised to continue the current level of support with no end in sight?
“I encourage Governor Inslee and Insurance Commissioner Kreidler to be forthcoming and provide the whole story as this important debate continues in our state and around the country. Releasing incomplete information and utilizing scare tactics is not helpful. Let's gather all the facts, share them, and see how this issue plays out in our nation's capital. I encourage everyone to be a part of this process.”
To read my full statement, click here.
New technology for dairy waste shows promise
In the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this week we heard a presentation about emerging technology that could change how dairy waste water is treated. This is high-tech stuff involving Bill Gates and companies that normally build precision airplane parts. They can take wet manure and get clean drinkable water and 100 percent bone-dry organic material back in return. The material can be used as a soil additive, fertilizer or bedding. To view part of the presentation in .pdf form, click here.
Thank you for staying involved in your state government. It's an honor to serve you in Olympia.