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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Less than a month remains of the 2013 legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn April 28. Operating budgets are now being crafted by both the Senate Majority Coalition and House Democrats, all of which may be released in the next two weeks. Last Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee released his budget outline, which included more than $1.2 billion in tax increases.

Washington state is already expected to bring in an additional $2 billion over the current budget. Yet wages in the private sector remain low and unemployment remains high. Our economy is fragile and cannot support tax increases. That's why I oppose tax hikes. Instead, we need to adopt a budget that prioritizes spending and avoids tax increases. I support funding education first, taking care of our state's most vulnerable citizens and ensuring our public safety needs are met.

We may also soon see a transportation budget come to the House floor that would seek higher state gas taxes and fees. Again, I will not support increased taxes, especially when we have plenty of opportunity to reform our state's transportation system and get more bang for the buck out of the taxes you currently pay.

As always, your comments are welcome. You'll find my contact information at the bottom of this e-mail update. Please do not hit “reply” to this report, as it will not reach me.

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you!

 

Fix it BEFORE you fund it! SalesTaxesOnRoadProjects
This week's reform: Make gas tax dollars go further by exempting transportation projects from sales tax

In previous e-mail updates, I talked about the systematic problems within the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), including leaky pontoons, faulty ferries and ramps to nowhere. I also noted that it costs twice as much in Washington to build a highway than other states. Before we ask citizens for more money for transportation, we should get to the bottom of these problems first. In other words, “Fix it BEFORE you fund it!”

House Republicans have released a plan of reforms that we believe should be enacted BEFORE seeking more revenue for transportation. Go here to read our entire plan.

Each week in my e-mail update, I am highlighting one of the six reforms we have proposed. Here is this week's proposed reform:

House Bill 1985 would exempt transportation projects from sales tax.

Did you know that the state charges itself sales taxes on transportation projects? And that money from the state's transportation budget goes into the state's general fund to pay for operating expenses that have nothing to do with transportation.

Money in the state's transportation budget is largely derived from motor vehicle license fees and state gas taxes. However, the 18th Amendment to the Washington State Constitution requires motor vehicle license fees and state gas taxes to be used exclusively for highway projects and nothing else. How does the state get around this amendment? By charging itself sales taxes on transportation projects.

This means valuable transportation revenue (paid by drivers) is funneled out of the transportation budget and into the state's general fund, and then used to pay for non-highway projects like social services, education and general government. WSDOT officials estimate that project delivery costs could be reduced up to 8.5 percent if their projects were exempt from state sales taxes.

How significant is this? In the most recent budget cycle, $413 million in transportation funds was paid in sales tax to the general fund.

This ridiculous practice drives up the costs of projects. And remember, many transportation projects are bonded up to 25 or 30 years. In other words, the state borrows money over time to pay for transportation projects, including the cost of the sales taxes, which it then pays itself to the general fund. And you, the taxpayer, end up paying not only the principal and interest on the cost of the project, but also the interest on the money borrowed to pay the sales taxes to the state.

Before we ask citizens for more money for transportation, we need to end this absurd practice of the state paying itself sales tax on transportation projects. House Bill 1985 would accomplish this goal.

This week in Olympia!

Below is the schedule for public hearings in the House committees this week. I encourage you to become involved in your state Legislature. If you'd like to learn more about how to testify in committee, go here. Click on the links below to get information about each bill. Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. Dan Kristiansen

TUESDAY, APRIL 2

Public Safety Committee – House Hearing Room D – 8 a.m.

  • Courts can order offenders to refrain from consuming marijuana as part of Community Custody conditions – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 5010

Higher Education Committee – House Hearing Room A – 8:30 a.m.

  • Commercialization of Research – Work Session
  • Financial Aid Roundtable Discussion – Work Session

Government Operations and Elections Committee – House Hearing Room E – 9 a.m.

  • Replacement ballot by telephone request – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 5500

Labor and Workforce Development Committee – House Hearing Room D – 10 a.m.

  • Granting scheduling authority for qualified retrospective rating plan employers and groups – Public Hearing Senate Bill 5112
  • Employee Wellness Programs – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 5811

Government Accountability and Oversight Committee – House Hearing Room E

  • Liquor Sales and Distribution – Public Hearing and Executive Session on House Bill 2019


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3 (Policy cutoff)

Higher Education Committee – House Hearing Room A – 1:30 p.m.

  • Innovations in Remedial Education – Work Session


THURSDAY, APRIL 4

Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services – House Hearing Room C – 1:30 p.m.

  • Sexual Orientation Change Efforts for Children – Public Hearing on House Bill 1882

Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government – House Hearing Room D – 1:30 p.m.

Appropriations Subcommittee on Education – House Hearing Room A – 1:30 p.m.

  • Placing Epinephrine Autoinjectors in Schools – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 5104
  • Statewide Indicators of Educational Health – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 5491
  • Aligning High School and Postsecondary STEM – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 5624

FRIDAY, APRIL 5

Capital Budget Committee – House Hearing Room B – 8 a.m.

  • Bills Referred to Committee – Public Hearing

Finance Committee – House Hearing Room A – 8 a.m.

  • Bills Referred to Committee – Public Hearing

Transportation Committee – House Hearing Room B – 1:30 p.m.

  • Bills Referred to Committee – Public Hearing

SATURDAY, APRIL 6

Appropriations Committee – House Hearing Room A – 9 a.m.

  • Bills Referred to Committee – Public Hearing

Transportation Committee – House Hearing Room B – 9 a.m.

  • Bills Referred to Committee – Public Hearing

 

Events at the State Capitol

We have many groups that visit the state Capitol during the legislative session and participate in events. Here's a look at public events planned this week.

Wednesday, April 3VietnamVeteransWelcomeHomeDay
Seattle Children's Advocacy Day

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sponsored by: Seattle Children's Hospital
Legislative Building – Columbia room
Estimated attendance: 100

Thursday, April 4
Blood Drive

11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sponsored by: Puget Sound Blood Center
Office Building 2
Estimated attendance: 40

Friday, April 5
Ballard High School Choir Singing
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Sponsored by: Ballard High School
Legislative Building – Rotunda
Estimated attendance: 90 choir members

Saturday, April 6
National Tartan Day Proclamation Reading
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Sponsored by: National Tartan Day Society of Washington
Legislative Building – Rotunda
Estimated attendance: 50-100

 

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen

State Representative Dan Kristiansen, 39th Legislative District
RepresentativeDanKristiansen.com
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
dan.kristiansen@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000