Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Friday, Democrats passed their proposed operating budget, Senate Bill 5034, from the House on a near party-line vote. I voted “no.” Here's why:
- This is a tax-and-spend “can't say no” budget that would spend more and save less than any other proposal;
- It would raise taxes by $1.3 billion when revenues are already expected to grow by 6.6 percent – nearly $2 billion more revenue expected in the coming budget cycle – and that's without tax increases;
- Tax increases would affect trucking, janitorial services, insurance, high-tech research and development, architects, prescription drug and travel agent industries. It would extend taxes to all types of beer, and place a sales tax on bottled water (the same tax that was recently repealed by voters);
- The tax increases would hurt the Main Street sectors of our fragile economy and make it harder for employers to hire and create jobs; and
- It would completely drain the state's Rainy Day Fund, leaving the state vulnerable if there are unforeseen emergencies.
While the Senate Majority Caucus Coalition's operating budget proposal is not perfect, I believe it is a much better plan than the House Democrat proposal because:
- It would not rely on tax increases; and
- The bipartisan plan would spend $1.5 billion more on K-12 education, $300 million more for higher education, and it balances over four years.
Now that both the Senate and House have passed their respective operating budget proposals, the issue goes before a conference committee which will work to negotiate a final budget that could receive a majority of votes in both chambers. If House Democrats are open to compromise and allow bipartisanship, the Legislature can – and should – finish the legislative session by its scheduled end date of April 28 without the need for a special session.
I invite you to read on for other issues and events at the state Capitol.
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!
This week's reform: Reduce bonding terms to 15 years
- House Bill 1236 – would require state agencies to make a permit decision in 90 days or the permit is granted.
- House Bill 1619 – would suspend Growth Management Act requirements in counties with persistent unemployment, where regulations often stand in the way of economic development.
- House Bill 1985 – would exempt future state transportation projects from state and local sales and use tax.
- House Bill 1986 – would require the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to report to the Legislature on engineering errors and mistakes that exceed $500,000.
These are part of our “Fix it BEFORE you fund it” transportation reform package. House Republicans believe before the Legislature asks you for more money for transportation, it should implement these reforms and seek fundamental changes in WSDOT to ensure that taxpayers are not left on the hook for such major mistakes, such as leaky pontoons, faulty ferries and ramps to nowhere.
Here's another suggestion we have proposed: House Bill 1989 would limit bond terms for transportation projects to 15 years.
Bonds are like a mortgage. Let's say you purchase a home on a 25-year loan at 6.5 percent for $100,000. The interest over 25 years would be nearly $103,000, meaning you'll pay more than double the original purchase price. It's the same for when the state issues bonds for transportation projects. Normally, transportation projects are bonded on a 30-year term, which means the state commits itself during that period to repay both principal and debt services. Not only that, the state charges itself sales tax on transportation projects. So it must take out a higher loan to cover the cost of the sales tax. Taxpayers pay far more than the original price tag.
By limiting bond terms to 15 years, the state would pay considerably less over the term of the loan. Plus it would free up 15 years of funding that could be applied to other projects.
These are simple, but effective solutions that would protect taxpayers, ensure accountability and make our gas tax dollars go farther. Before we ask you for more money, we should “Fix it BEFORE we fund it!”
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.
Thursday, April 18
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sponsored by: SEIU Healthcare 775 NW
Legislative Building – 4th floor west
Estimated attendance: 25
Friday, April 19
CODE BLUE: Public School Employees Week of Action, Sign & Wave
7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Sponsored by: Public School Employees of Washington
West Campus – South Diagonal and Capitol Way pedestrian bridge
Estimated attendance: 45
Saturday, April 20
Interfaith Vigil and Rally for Gun Sense
Time: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sponsored by: Moms Demand Action Washington/Olympia and St. Benedict's
West Campus – Tivoli Fountain North Lawn
Estimated attendance: 100
Last week in my e-mail update, I asked you to respond in our caucus statewide survey about tax incentives. Here are the results:
In your service,