Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As I mentioned in last week's update, my colleagues and I in the House Republican Caucus have introduced our 2021-23 operating budget framework. It is one of the first budget proposals of the session and it fully funds state government without raising taxes.
Our budget proposal represents real solutions and real opportunities for ALL Washingtonians. Our funding priorities are working families, the vulnerable, students, and small businesses. This budget proposal does not raise taxes on anyone or anything and does not cut vital services.
We tap into the state's rainy day fund for about $1.8 billion to pay for one-time COVID related expenditures and investments. As has been said multiple times, this is exactly what our rainy day fund is for! One-time expenses to cover unforeseen or extreme dips in our economy.
We also reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, fix inefficient structures (like merging an underfunded pension plan with an overfunded one), eliminate programs that aren't meeting their benchmarks, and replace bad policies with better ones. This includes legislative-driven policy savings identified as part of a zero-based budgeting review, something the majority party has refused to do.
This proposal also breaks a cycle of unsustainable spending increases, which averaged about 16% over the past several years.
I have been serving on the House Appropriations Committee since my first year in office. Some might say “sentenced” to this committee as it is known for going late into the night and into the wee hours of the morning on occasion, as well as several full weekends. I don't think I've ever seen the minority party produce such a complete, comprehensive budget proposal. This process started last summer as House Republicans were calling for a special session to address both the COVID pandemic and to make spending alterations to address our budget shortfall.
Starting from scratch – from a “zero base” – is not something that is done often, if ever, in state government. If a state agency spends “x” amount one biennium, the expected allocation for the following biennium is usually just “x plus inflation plus population growth,” or something like that. Rarely if ever, do agencies go over their budgets line-by-line and justify each program based on the expected outcomes. If we never do that, how do we know state government is working? How do we know if its efficiently and wisely spending hard-earned tax dollars? The answer is, we don't.
Our budget proposal was hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of thoughtful line-by-line analysis. Our budget leader, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, deserves a lot of credit.
Why is it important to talk about this now? Many of us believe the majority party is going to use the COVID pandemic as an excuse to raise or create new taxes. We need to show that a new state budget can be done responsibly, thoughtfully, and fully fund our priorities, all without raising taxes. We remain hopeful and willing to lend the majority party any or all of our solutions. At the end of the day, I don't think our families and small businesses can afford more taxes.
For more information on our budget proposal, you can click here to visit our website that has graphs, charts, and more specific analysis.
And again, please participate in this remote session by testifying remotely or submitting written testimony. You can click here for more information.
Thank you for reading my email update and for staying involved. It is truly an honor to work on your behalf.