Republican response to State of the State address by Rep. Dan Kristiansen
Snohomish lawmaker calls for setting budget priorities, resisting tax increases, allowing free-market solutions to work
Calling upon the Legislature and the governor to make better, responsible budget decisions, Rep. Dan Kristiansen responded today to Gov. Christine Gregoire's State of the State address by saying that expanding state government will not solve Washington's economic woes.
Kristiansen, who serves as chairman of the House Republican Caucus, delivered the Republican response following the governor's address this afternoon.
The Snohomish lawmaker said that although the national economy contributed to Washington's projected $7 billion budget deficit, the severity of the crisis is largely due to mistakes made by the Legislature.
“On the governor's watch, the Democrat majority in the Legislature increased spending by thirty-three percent over the last four years. We went from a two billion dollar surplus to a nearly seven billion dollar deficit in the last two years. That's a nine billion dollar swing in the budget,” said Kristiansen. “This is poor stewardship of the tax dollars you pay.”
Kristiansen noted that revenues are expected to increase in the coming biennium by 5 percent, yet the projected budget would still outspend that anticipated increase.
“It took Washington 114 years to grow state spending to twenty-five billion dollars. But it only took four years to increase spending by more than eight billion dollars,” he added. “The Legislature is spending at a rate faster than the increased revenue. That level of spending is unsustainable.”
Kristiansen said the Legislature must avoid repeating these mistakes if it is serious about helping Washington's economy. One important component of economic recovery, he said, is to stand firm against tax or fee increases in the budget that emerges from the Legislature.
“It's time to eliminate the option of raising taxes — take it entirely off the table,” Kristiansen noted. “Taxpayers and employers did not create this crisis and they should not be expected to bail out state government.”
Kristiansen added that any economic stimulus packages to pass from the Legislature should emphasize job growth in the private sector — not more tax dollars being poured into expansion of state government.
“Republicans agree that we need to stimulate the economy in ways that will help businesses in the private sector retain and create new jobs. We cannot dig our way out of a budget deficit by spending tax dollars to increase government jobs. That's part of what contributed to this deficit in the first place,” said Kristiansen.
The 39th District representative said the budget crisis can be solved by forcing the state to live within its means — now and in the future.
“Answers to our current economic system should not involve bail outs,” he said. “It comes down to setting priorities, cutting non-essential services to reduce spending, and allowing the free-market system that our nation was founded upon to work and flourish.”
Kristiansen said he's optimistic about the future of the state and added that Republicans are ready to reach out with solutions. He called on the Legislature to “come together united toward the needs of the people.” But he also said it will be important for citizens to hold lawmakers accountable for the budget decisions made during the legislative session.
“Answers to our economic situation are easy, but it's the will to do what is right that seems so hard to find,” said Kristiansen. “So I'm asking citizens to pay close attention to the work of the Legislature, the governor and her administration as we address the budget challenges and critical issues over the next four months and beyond. Become involved and hold us, your legislators, accountable.
“We must soberly face the consequences of bad decisions made by state government. As legislators, we must remember that all the policy decisions we make in Olympia are paid for with revenues generated from a sound economy. Our commitment as Republicans is to preserve a free society, hold up the principles of free-market solutions, not solutions that come from government bureaucracies, and allow our capitalistic economic system to correct itself,” concluded Kristiansen.
###Washington State House Republican Communications