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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're nearing the homestretch of the 2015 legislative session. Both the House and Senate have passed their respective budget proposals (more on that below) and negotiations are ongoing. Much of our time now is spent on the House floor voting and debating legislation. In my new role as Caucus Chair, I'm responsible for organizing our caucus meetings, keeping things on track as we debate the merits of bills, and helping form our overall strategy to get our legislation through the process or to kill bad bills. It's been a fun but very busy time.
As the session progresses, our “dead/alive” bill list is continually updated. You can click here to look at some of the major issues.
I want to thank you for your constant flow of letters, phone calls and e-mails. Hearing your thoughts and concerns helps me represent you and assists me in making my point to other legislators, especially those from the West side of the state. I can't tell you how many times I've used your examples – your stories – when debating or conversing with my colleagues in the House and Senate. Your voice is heard every day in Olympia!
The House Democrats recently released their 2015-17 operating budget proposal. In a nutshell, it raises taxes by $1.5 billion and increases state spending from $33.8 billion (2013-15) to $38.9 billion! That's a 15 percent increase! When you look at the required four-year outlook, their budget only leaves $4 million in reserves for the 2017-19 biennium and raises spending to $43 billion! That's almost a $10 billion spending increase in just six years.
I believe this to be unsustainable, unpredictable and unwise. I'm not about to support a budget that takes more tax dollars from struggling workers and families. With about $3 billion more in tax collections expected in this budget cycle (nearly a 9 percent increase) there should be plenty of tax dollars to fund education, keep our communities safe, and take care of the priorities expected of us by the citizens back home.
If you want to watch my video update where I talk about the House Democrat budget, click here.
If you want to watch a quick video of one my colleagues, Rep. Matt Manweller, explaining in detail why we don't need the House Democrat's tax increases, and what those increases would do, click here. Rep. Manweller is currently a Professor of Political Science at Central Washington University where he teaches Political Economy, Constitutional Law and classes for the William O. Douglas Honors College.
What's even more galling about their proposal is the fact that they declined (for political reasons) to take votes on – and pass – the tax increases necessary to fund their budget. It was just a wish list of spending. But they refused to put their money where their mouths are and declined to take votes on their massive tax increases. Frankly, there will never be enough revenue to match their spending. The House Democrat budget shows no restraint. I joined with all of my House Republican colleagues and voted no on this budget proposal.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus also passed their budget proposal. While I don't agree with everything it contains, it appears to be a much more balanced approach. It does NOT contain the $1.5 billion in tax increases like the House Democrat budget. And, for the first time since the 1970s, it actually reduces college tuition by 25 percent! It also leaves more in reserves to account for economic ups and downs.
To watch my video update where I talk about the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus budget proposal, click here.
As I said, with both chambers passing their budget proposals, the negotiations are really starting to heat up. With just over two weeks left in this 105-day session, there is still plenty of time to finish ON TIME! There is no reason to spend extra tax dollars on a special session.
My bill to keep Northeast Washington from being segmented off into its own “climate zone” for building code purposes has passed both the House and Senate unanimously. House Bill 1011 now goes to the governor for his signature.
My bill to study the impacts wolves are having on our region's ungulate (deer, elk, moose) populations passed through the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee as well as the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is now in the Senate Rules Committee. I'm hopeful House Bill 1676 will pass the Senate in the next week.
Carbon tax (cap and trade) dead for the session?
It appears so. Even the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives couldn't pass Gov. Inslee's onerous carbon tax proposal. Knowing this governor and his passion for ideological environmentalism, I have no doubt he'll bring this around the Legislature again in the future. But for now, it appears families will be protected from his carbon tax that would raise the price of electricity, fuel, food, and certain goods and services.
However, many of us believe the governor is waiting until the Legislature adjourns before he implements, through executive order, a low carbon fuel standard for Washington state. This could dramatically increase the price of gas in our state and has not proven effective or even fully implementable in California. I'll continue to fight this effort even when the Legislature is not in session. Stay tuned.
Thank you for reading my e-newsletter and for staying involved. It is a privilege and an honor to serve you in Olympia.
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