Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There are 24 more days scheduled for the 2013 session. We have passed four deadlines so far and our next cutoff will be on Tuesday, April 9. By that time, Senate bills must have passed both House policy and budget committees in order to continue through the process. For a quick reminder of how a bill gets passed click here.
This session, my office has once again worked hard to reach out to our community in order to listen to your concerns and respond to the issues you care about. If you haven't had a chance to talk with me or hear my interview and would like to, please feel free to contact my office. My door is always open and I welcome your thoughts and opinions.
A few weeks ago, Sen. Doug Ericksen and I hosted a well-attended town hall. It was great to speak with constituents one-on-one and hear how we can best represent you. We addressed a variety of questions from education and jobs to the environment and coal trains.
Recently, I also had the opportunity to participate in a radio program on KGMI to give residents a detailed picture of what I've been working on. If you weren't able to hear that interview please click here to listen.
And last week, I hosted a telephone town hall with my seatmates Rep. Jason Overstreet and Sen. Doug Ericksen. It was great to connect with so many folks who would otherwise have a hard time getting to Olympia or a local gathering. The telephone town hall is much like a radio talk show where constituents can call-in and ask us questions directly. More than 2,000 people participated at one point during the hour-long telephone town hall! During the call, we asked a couple different poll questions that participants could vote on if they so choose. You can see the interesting results below.
Cutoff and the Senate
Yesterday was the cutoff for Senate bills to be voted out of policy committees in the House. Due to the unusual makeup of the Senate this year there were markedly fewer bills that came to House committees.
For those of you who may not be aware, earlier this year two Democrats joined with the Republicans in the Senate and formed a bipartisan coalition. This is important because it's the first time in many years where one party has not controlled the House, Senate and the governor's office. With one party control, it is impossible to have real bipartisanship. The change is evident this year. The House proposed over 1000 bills in 52 days. Thankfully, once those bills reached the Senate, many of the poor bills died and only bipartisan legislation is continuing through the process.
Next week, we will resume with voting on the House floor. At this stage, bills that are not changed from the Senate version, and voted off the House floor, go directly to the governor. So this set of votes is very important. I anticipate we will work into the evening on several occasions.
The governor released what he called a “budget outline.” This outline included $1.2 billion in tax increases. Six months ago, Gov. Inslee promised to not increase taxes by saying he “would veto anything that heads the wrong direction and the wrong direction is new taxes in the state of Washington.” Making this kind of promise and then breaking it within the first 90 days of his service betrays the people's trust.
The governor has said these are not officially new taxes because they just extend temporary taxes or end exemptions. For example:
- Business and Occupation taxes on service businesses will continue. This means higher taxes for barbers, dentists, janitors, music teachers, school bus operators, architects, veterinarians and more.
- Tax incentives will end for vehicle trade-ins, getting local residential phone service, recycled fuel environmental programs at Washington's oil refineries, the purchase of farm equipment and more.
Gov. Inslee stated these increases were to fund education. But the House Republicans put forth a budget that fully funds education, allocates over $500 million more, and all without any new taxes. Using children as a reason to increase taxes is disingenuous.
In response to the governor's outline, the majority in the Senate proposed their own budget. Their proposal is a real bipartisan budget and an example of what a budget that does not rely on tax increases might look like. It is a positive step toward funding education while providing necessary state services without placing a greater tax burden on a very fragile and slow economic recovery.
As the session comes to a close, I will keep you updated about what is going on in Olympia. If you have any ideas, questions or concerns that you would like to share with me, please contact my office. I am here to be a resource for you.