Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Houston, we have a problem! Apparently, 105 days was not enough time for budget negotiators to come up with an agreed-upon solution to fill our state's budget shortfall, fund education and balance our state's budget for the next four years.
This is very disappointing. We didn't work last weekend and there seems to be no rush from House Democrats or the governor to come to an agreement. In fact, the consensus around Olympia is that the governor has truly aided in the “extra time” by going back on his campaign promise to not raise taxes. As one of my colleagues in Olympia is fond of saying, “We can't debate what goes IN the sandbox (the budget) until we know the SIZE of the sandbox.” Because tax increases are not off the table, the discussion with the governor and the majority party in the House continues to be which taxes to raise and by how much.
- $534 million – Would permanently extend the business and occupation (B&O) surtax on certain businesses.
- $14.6 million – B&O tax rates for travel agents.
- $51.5 million – Would place sales and use tax on bottled water. This is the same tax that was repealed by voters in 2010.
- $43 million – Would repeal the nonresident sales and use tax exemption. This could especially hit our border counties very hard along the Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia borders.
- $78.7 million – B&O taxes for high-tech research and development.
- $63.2 million – Public utility tax on truck transport of goods in state that are destined for out of state.
- $24.1 million – B&O and sales and use taxes for import commerce.
- $29 million – B&O tax for sellers of prescription drugs.
- $40.8 million – Fuel tax for extracted fuel.
- $5.2 million – Handling losses fuel tax.
TOTAL: $879 million
I was extremely proud to join my House Republican colleagues in a major battle on the House floor against these unnecessary tax increases. If you want to see some of the video highlights of our floor speeches and why we don't think taxes are necessary, click here.
People need to remember that the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus passed a bipartisan budget that did NOT raise taxes, fully funded education and was balanced out for four more years! However, the budget – and the tax increase package passed by the House – did not have one Republican in support.
The sad part of “special sessions” is that it gives the other side – the side that wants more taxes – time to get their people fired up. I anticipate we'll see more rallies at the Capitol in the coming days for those special interest groups that want more money.
For now, it looks like the plan is for legislators to go home and take a few days or weeks off, and then the budget negotiators will go back to Olympia and try to hammer out a compromise budget – something that should have been taking place since January, not in a special session. Once an agreement is close, the rest of the lawmakers will head to Olympia to be briefed on the budget, debate and vote on it. A sad end to a long 105-day session and possible 30-day special session.
I'll keep you informed as best I can – but I'll also be trying to get some work done on the farm. Stay tuned throughout the upcoming special session as I'll continue to send out updates as soon as I hear anything worth passing on.
Thanks for reading my e-newsletter and thanks for trusting me to represent you in Olympia.