Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The House Democrats released their budget proposal today. We were originally scheduled to have a public hearing on the plan today, vote it out of committee tomorrow, and then debate it on the House floor next week. However, many House Republicans, including me, felt this timeline was too rushed. There would not be enough time for anyone living outside the Olympia area to testify on the bill. Our Leadership team sent a letter to Speaker Frank Chopp requesting more time for the public to weigh-in. In part, the letter said:
“While we are sympathetic to the need to adopt a budget and complete our business within the 105 days allotted for the current session, we are troubled that the public will effectively have no time to read, review, testify, or otherwise weigh-in with their representatives on the operating budget under your current schedule. It may be possible for certain lobbyists to prepare for the hearing on Friday, but the average citizen is unlikely to even be aware of the budget's release – let alone obtain copies and make plans to testify – until long after the public hearing has already taken place.”
In response to our request for more time for public input, the bill will now be heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Monday. We expect to vote on the bill in committee on Tuesday, with floor debate coming on Thursday. While still not much time considering the ramifications of such an important piece of legislation, I'm happy the House Democratic Leadership agreed with us.
As for the budget proposal itself, I have concerns that their budget plan relies on $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes. They want to tax capital gains (which amounts to an income tax, something voters recently rejected by 64%), tax online purchases and raise the B&O tax on certain service businesses. With $3 billion more in revenues this upcoming budget cycle, I don't think tax increases are the way to go. Our economy is still recovering and so are our struggling families and employers.
Lights, camera, ACTION!
I had the opportunity to talk about privacy issues with Charter Communications for their local government program. I've been told the short five minute video will be available in their OnDemand section and possibly air around CNN Headline News in certain areas. Being on camera is not something I necessarily strive for, but it is part of the job. Before I could go on camera they had to try and “fix me up” a bit. I think I can safely say I stretched the expected efficacy of the applied makeup to its limits!
I've decided to keep my online survey open for one more week. I've had such a great response from all of you. If you haven't had a chance yet to vote, click here to let me know what you think about the proposed gas tax and a couple other issues.
Thanks for reading my e-newsletter and for the honor of serving you in Olympia. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and concerns.