Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As I've said in nearly all of my past newsletters, your input is very important to me. I always enjoy hearing from you. I also appreciate having very wise citizens who help keep me focused on issues important to the district.
Last week, I sent an e-newsletter with a column that discussed the dip in the March 17 state revenue forecast and made the point it is all the more reason why we need to take action in the Legislature to help create private sector jobs and get Washington working again. I wrote that the forecast, “showed incoming revenues are down by more than $778 million, putting the state's projected budget shortfall for the 2011-13 cycle at more than $5.1 billion.”
As you know, I've talked for many years about how the state doesn't have a revenue problem – it has a spending problem. So last week's e-newsletter caught the eye of a Snohomish citizen who wrote: “Your letter says, 'incoming revenues are down by more than $778 million.' Does that mean that we expect actual revenue to be down by that amount over the prior period actual or does it mean that the expected revenue is going to be less than the budgeted revenue?”
So I contacted our House Republican budget analyst to help clarify and here is his reply:
“It means that we have $778 million less than we expected in November. To answer the other part of the question, here is a comparison of revenues for 2009-11 to 2011-13. As you can see, we are expecting about 13.8 percent more revenue over the next two years than the previous two years.”
2009-11: $28.047 billion
2011-13: $31.907 billion
Difference: $3.86 billion
That's quite an eye-opener!
So the question I anticipate some of you are ready to ask is: If we have $3.86 billion MORE revenue expected in the coming two years than the previous two years, why do we keep hearing about a $5.1 billion budget shortfall? I think it goes back to what I've been saying for years – we don't have a revenue problem – we have a spending problem! However, before I provide a definitive answer, I'd like to gather some details. I'm working with our budget analyst to run some numbers so that in my next e-newsletter I can report those details to you.
In the meantime, we expect the majority party will be releasing its operating budget proposal any day, which will show how much they want to spend.
So keep watch here in my next e-newsletter and I'll try to provide some clearer information about the budget and spending.
Again, thanks for your input!
Please read on for more legislative news, including information about my upcoming telephone town hall meeting.
It is an honor to serve you.
JOIN ME NEXT TUESDAY, APRIL 5, FOR A TELEPHONE TOWN HALL MEETING
Earlier this year, I scheduled a telephone town hall meeting for Feb. 24. However, the day of the event, western Washington had a terrific storm which left several inches of snow on the ground. I decided to cancel that telephone forum and reschedule. That date is coming up soon, so I would like to invite you to join me for a telephone town hall meeting next Tuesday, April 5, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The call-in radio show format is an opportunity for you to learn more about the 2011 legislative session, ask questions and take part in polls. To participate, dial toll-free 1-877-229-8493, and enter PIN code 15786 when prompted.
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION BUDGET PROPOSAL ADVANCES
The House of Representatives approved a $8.9 billion transportation budget for the 2011-13 fiscal cycle last Friday by a vote of 89-6. The House proposal would maintain highway and bridge construction projects already on the state's priority list, but contains no new projects.
Most of the existing projects have been funded through previous increases in the state's gas tax since 2005.
More than $151 million would be allocated for various transportation projects throughout the 39th District, including $113 million for the expansion of the State Route 522 bridge over the Snohomish River to add lanes, $4.4 million for safety improvements to U.S. Highway 2, $2.7 million for chip seal paving of State Route 20 (North Cascades Highway), and $2.7 million to realign State Route 530 along the Sauk River.
The measure, House Bill 1175, was sent to the Senate for further consideration.
LEARN ABOUT THE STATE ROUTE 522 WIDENING PROJECT
The Washington State Department of Transportation hosted a community meeting Tuesday, March 22, to give drivers and residents information about an upcoming project to widen SR 522 between the Snohomish River and U.S. Highway 2. If you missed the meeting, you can watch a video about the project on YouTube or click here to e-mail WSDOT for more information.
GOOD TO GO PASSES NOT REALLY SO GOOD TO GO
Recently, KING 5 News interviewed me on several issues, but the one that seemed to get the most airplay was about the state's Good to Go passes. These are the stickers that motorists purchase and put in their windows which contain transponders. When a motorist enters a tolled road, the sensor transmits that information and money is debited from the motorist's bank account.
Apparently, the Good to Go passes cannot be used on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Because of old technology, motorists must have a separate Narrows Good to Go pass. KING 5 brought that to my attention and asked me about it on camera. You can see the interview by going here.
YOUR VOICE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
As I mentioned in my opening letter, your input is very important to the legislative process. We have an active constituency in the 39th District, which is very good because our process of lawmaking works best when you are involved. I've been pleased that many people have come to Olympia from the district during this session and have been involved in meetings with lawmakers. We've also had several people come to testify on legislation during committee public hearings. Recently, Tim Dutton of Arlington (see photo at left) came to Olympia to testify on Senate Bill 5585, a measure that would redefine the definition of a street rod vehicle.
I encourage you to visit the Legislature while it is in session. Click here to get more information, including how to testify on a bill.
In your service,