Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to thank those of you who were able to participate in our 9th District telephone town hall last night. We had nearly 1,200 participants in total with over 400 on the line at any one time.
We discussed health care, property taxes, the increase in car tabs, education funding, water rights and the Hirst decision, immigration and small business regulations. Also, here are the results of the poll questions we asked:
1) Would you support a tax increase to pay for basic education? Or should the state find the resources within existing revenues?
I would support a tax increase to pay for basic education = 14.8%
I think the state should find resources within existing revenues = 85.2%
2) How do you feel about the economy where you work and live?
It's thriving and family wage jobs are available = 9.3%
Seems to be getting a little better and I'm cautiously optimistic = 20.3%
Things aren't good and I don't think it will change anytime soon = 28.8%
The economy is suffering, businesses are closing and folks are moving away = 41.5%
Your input and participation is greatly appreciated as we work together to find solutions to the problems we're facing in Eastern Washington and statewide.
Senate Majority Coalition Caucus releases 2017 session's first budget proposal
The SMCC, led by Senate Republicans, released the session's first budget proposal this week. While I'm reminding folks that this is just the first step in the budget negotiating process, the Senate budget is encouraging. It fully funds education, provides services for our most vulnerable, and does not include new or major tax increases.
In fact, by replacing existing levy rates and installing a new statewide levy rate of $1.55, nearly every homeowner in the 9th District will see a property tax decrease with the Senate budget plan. This is a much more equitable levy system than what is currently in place as the state Supreme Court has mandated that basic education opportunities should be the same no matter your zip code. Some school districts have local levy rates as high as $5.39 and higher, while some, like Seattle ($1.22) and Bellevue ($1.25) are lower.
With new education spending in this budget, coupled with the $4.6 billion in additional education investments over the last two budget cycles, education funding will have doubled in a decade (2011 = $13 billion; 2021 = $27 billion).
The Senate budget also increases mental health services, funds public safety and includes money for 1,800 higher education enrollments with a significant focus on STEM degrees. It also keeps our state's Rainy Day Fund intact and healthy with nearly $2 billion to help protect against tax increases in the future if the economy takes a downturn.
It will be interesting to see the comparison to the House Democrat budget which we expect to see next week. Perhaps the recent increases in the state revenue forecast will convince them to take a possible income tax off the table, but that remains to be seen.
With both budgets available to the public and heavily debated by the end of next week, I am hopeful that the Legislature can finish on time in the 105 days allotted. But again, that remains to be seen.
Thank you for reading my e-newsletter and for staying involved.