Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The House Democrat budget plan passed the House yesterday on a partisan vote with Republicans voting no. As I mentioned in last week's e-mail update, their plan raises state spending by 15% and increases taxes by $1.5 billion, despite the fact we're expected to take in nearly $3 billion more in tax revenues this next budget cycle.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus released their budget proposal as well. It seems more in line with the economic realities of Washington citizens. It does NOT increase taxes. It prioritizes spending, invests more in K-12 education, reduces higher education tuition by 25% – something that hasn't been done since the 1970s – and rather than giving a percentage raise across-the-board to state employees, it gives a flat $2,000 raise per employee. This tactic impacts those on the lower pay scale the most and saves the state a substantial sum.
I anticipate the Senate's budget to pass the Senate very soon – they were debating it up until about 4:00 a.m. this morning! Once that happens, both budgets will go into what's called a “conference committee,” where budget writers from both chambers and both sides of the aisle (called the “four corners”) meet to hash out the final budget. With just over three weeks left in the 105-day session, I see no reason we can't get our work done on time. I am adamant in my discussions with my colleagues that no special session is needed.
Thanks again for taking part in my online survey. As I've said before, I know you and I are not going to agree on every issue. But my intent is to listen, hear your concerns and opinions, and involve you in the process as much as possible as I make decisions on your behalf in Olympia. Here are the results:
What issue is most important to you?
State spending = 42.75%
Jobs/the economy = 31.68%
K-12 education = 19.47%
Health Care = 13.36%
Environment = 8.02%
Transportation = 5.73%
The governor is proposing a carbon tax on large employers like Boeing, and also on many large energy companies to pay for transportation and education. Knowing this will most likely raise the price of certain goods and services as well as energy prices, would you support the governor's plan? (NOTE: This proposal looks to be dead for the session as even the House Democrats couldn't muster enough votes to pass it off the House floor)
YES = 18.56%
NO = 69.42%
NOT SURE, need more information = 13.06%
The idea of an 11 or even 13 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase is being floated around Olympia. Are you in favor of this gas tax increase to pay for new transportation projects?
YES = 17.47%
NO = 63.01%
MAYBE, but only if the 9th LD received its fair share of projects and significant reforms are made to DOT = 22.6%
Is there a reason to raise taxes?
I'd like to get your feedback on the House Democrat tax increase proposals as well. Is there a compelling reason to raise taxes in light of having $3 billion in extra revenue coming into state coffers? Click here to leave your comments. I'll share some of those comments in next week's e-newsletter.
I want to say a big “Thank you” to Daisy Valdez for serving as my legislative page this week. She goes to Othello High School and is the class secretary. I really enjoyed spending time with her sister, mother and grandmother when they came over for a visit.
As part of her page duties, Daisy learned to navigate the many buildings on the Capitol campus and delivered messages and documents to legislators and staff. Each year, students from around the state apply to participate in the legislative page program. Students spend a week attending page school, learning the inner workings of state government and assisting legislators on the House floor. Pages earn $35 per day while serving in the program.
To become a page, applicants must have a legislative sponsor, be between the ages of 14 and 16, and obtain written permission from their parents and school. For more information about the House page program, visit: http://www.leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/HousePageProgram.aspx.
Thank you for reading my e-newsletter and for staying involved. We're entering the last stretch of the session with a lot of late-night floor debate and votes in the future. Your input is appreciated as I represent you in the state Legislature.