Dear Friends and Neighbors,
YOU ARE INVITED
I am hosting a telephone town hall next Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7:00 p.m. To participate, callers should call toll-free 1-877-229-8493 and then enter pin number 15440.
This is a great way to touch base with you during the busy session from the convenience and comfort of your own home. I look forward to hearing from as many as possible. We face many difficult issues in Olympia and it will take ideas and solutions from everyone. Please participate if you are able.
The 2010 Legislative Session has begun. This year, the pace is notably faster as legislators try to cram as much possible into 60 days as possible. While I know there are always important issues that need to be worked on, improved, or changed for the betterment of our families and communities, the real issue this – the main issue – is once again the budget.
BUDGET & TAXES
We've seen three budget proposals in the last 12 months and not one of them contained true governmental reforms that would allow us to create a long-term sustainable budget. From a small business owner and farmer's perspective, this is ludicrous. Most of us on the farm live by the old adage: “If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But if it is broke, get off your hind end and fix it quick – or you don't eat!”
Well, our budget system is broke. We patched up last year's $9 billion shortfall with one-time bailout money, some budget transfers and a few program reductions. Instead of looking at ways to do things better, defining and funding our priorities, the Legislature decided to take the easy way out and kick the can down the road.
And now, here we are once again with a budget deficit, this time at around $2.6 billion. The word in the halls of the Capitol is that we'll probably once again kick the can and either use more one-time bailout money from President Obama or a combination of several different tax increases to solve the problem.
So far, we've heard of a possible tax on candy, gum, muffins, and professional services being combined with an increase in the cigarette tax or even a state income tax. I want you to know that I don't support tax increases to close our state's budget hole. Families and employers are struggling as it is – they don't need government placing an increased tax burden on their shoulders.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
My priorities this session are to reduce government spending and help get people working again. I believe government – at all levels – should be doing everything it can to help the private sector create jobs. If that means reducing costly and time-consuming regulations, so be it. If that means reforming our workers' compensation and unemployment insurance systems, let's do it. We must exhaust all avenues and every resource to get people working.
This year, I am joining with my House Republican colleagues in sponsoring a legislative package called “Made in Washington.” Our goal is to make the term “Made in Washington” mean something again. I encourage you to visit our website to learn more our plan.
INVITATION TO OLYMPIA
If you're able, I encourage you to visit Olympia while the Legislature is in session. Contact my office and we can help arrange a tour of the Capitol or the Governor's Mansion. You can sit in on a public hearing or even sit in the gallery during floor action in the House or Senate chambers. And I'll do my best to make time to meet with you to hear your concerns
I want to let you know that I appreciate those of you who have contacted me with your thoughts, ideas and solutions. This is YOUR government. I am here to serve you. Your input is always welcome. It is a pleasure to serve you in Olympia.