Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Several days ago, I had a conversation with a small business owner who has done everything possible to avoid layoffs. Between the increases in workers' compensation insurance premiums and unemployment insurance rates, he's paying 1,600 percent more in taxes. That's equivalent to two employees' salaries.
“Guess what I'm forced to do?” he asked. “I have to lay off one person, maybe two, to pay for tax increases so that someone else not affiliated with my company gets extended unemployment benefits.”
That's the reality of many employers across the state. Increased taxes are slowing economic recovery and contributing to the highest unemployment rate in two decades.
It's a reality being ignored at the state Capitol. Halfway through our scheduled 60-day session, the Legislature has done NOTHING to regenerate our economy and get people working again. Of the many job-creation bills my Republican colleagues and I proposed through our “Made in Washington” plan, only one was given a hearing and passed the committee – a measure that would give employers 48 hours to correct mistakes before an agency could issue a fine or penalty. The bill has yet to pass the Legislature.
Instead, powerful unions are lobbying for extended benefits, no state government cutbacks, and higher taxes to protect their interests. It's an election year – and Democrats in the Legislature are listening to them and responding.
That's why they introduced Senate Bill 6130. The bill would suspend the Taxpayer Protection Act, Initiative 960. The provisions of I-960 require the Legislature have a two-thirds approval to raise taxes. Not only would SB 6130 make it much easier for Democrats to raise taxes, it also goes against the will of the people.
My fellow House Republicans and I believe we were sent to Olympia to UPHOLD the people's will, not thwart it for political expediency. We also think state government should produce a fiscally-sound budget that finds efficiencies and cuts spending, rather than ask taxpayers to bail out legislators' bad spending habits.
This past Tuesday, House Republicans held a mini-filibuster on the floor of the House, arguing for seven hours that SB 6130 should be set aside indefinitely. On Wednesday, we took up debate again, using parliamentary rules and procedures in an attempt to kill the bill. We were on the floor during Wednesday morning and then again, Wednesday evening, attempting to stop the gutting of I-960. Unfortunately, Democrats prevailed, passing SB 6130 with a vote of 51-47. The measure goes back to the Senate for final approval before going to the governor for her signature.
As we were debating this measure, the governor was already preparing her tax package. On Wednesday, she she announced a proposal to increase taxes by $760 million, including:
- Repealing a B&O tax credit on syrup
- Adding to the taxes you pay on fuel at the pump
- A new 1-cent-per ounce tax on bottled water
- A new tax on carbonated beverages (5 cents per 12 ounces)
- Increasing the cigarette tax by $1
- Imposing the sales tax on (non-floured) candy and gum
- Increasing taxes for livestock nutrient management (livestock manure clean-up)
In addition, at least 77 bills have been introduced in the House to raise taxes and fees. Click here to see that list.
Never mind that many people have tapped into their savings and retirement accounts just to keep food on the table and prevent home foreclosure. No, the governor and legislative Democrats feel they must protect state government at all costs (taxpayer costs). And that's why, despite vehement protests by House and Senate Republicans, the Democrat majority (with the support of the governor) has voted to subvert the will of the people.
Am I angry about this? You bet!
I know the votes coming in the remaining three weeks of the session to increase taxes while bottling up jobs-creation legislation will deeply hurt struggling families and employers in the 39th District and throughout Washington. It will mean more jobs lost, more foreclosures, and a deeper, longer recession, just so state government can make up for its bad overspending practices.
I will vote against it. But my one vote cannot stop this runaway tax-and-spend train. Neither will the votes of my Republican colleagues. That's why the Democrat majority suspended I-960 – to clear us from the tracks so they can increase taxes. The only way to stop this is for citizens to act NOW!
I urge you – call the numbers below. Flood the lines and tell our state leaders, “We need private sector jobs – NOT tax increases!”
- Governor – (360) 902-4111
- Senate majority leader – (360) 786-7604
- House speaker – (360) 786-7920
- Toll-free legislative hotline – 1-800-562-6000
- My office – (360) 786-7967As always, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts, ideas, questions and concerns. Please click here to contact my office through our e-mail service.
In your service,