Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Tuesday marked the end of the first special session of 2013. Disappointingly, after 105 days of regular session, and another 30 days, the Legislature has still not reached a budget compromise. As you are probably already aware, the regular legislative session ended April 28. Since then, negotiations have come to a near halt.
A special session can only last up to 30 days; therefore another special session was called. I am frustrated by the continuation of session. However, I strongly support our counterparts in the Senate for making critical decisions that ensure the Legislature does NOT further tax our hard-working residents or fund education last and without reforms. Voting for a tax increase on those who can least afford it is unacceptable.
The budget proposed by House Democrats directly impacts struggling individuals and families in our communities. Washingtonians have opposed tax increases six times at the ballot box. Ignoring their wishes and claiming MORE taxes are mandatory is disingenuous. House Democrats' budget would have:
• funded everything else first and then relied on taxes to fund education, thereby not prioritizing the McCleary decision or our children;
• stripped more than $300 million out of the Public Works Assistance Account, thereby robbing funds from local governments that go to projects like updating the South Whatcom public library;
• threatened our high-paying local jobs by once again increasing taxes on our refineries;
• harmed small businesses by canceling the nonresident sales and use tax exemption; and
• increased the cost of prescriptions for the sick and elderly.
The Senate passed its own budget – for the second time – that proves funding education and priorities are not dependent on new taxes. The bipartisan Senate Majority Coalition budget invested more in education than the House Democrats' budget and does NOT make funding education subject to tax increases.
However, since the Senate passed their budget the governor has called another special session, threatened the shut down of government and blamed the Senate coalition. But in reality, Democrats and the governor are holding up the process by being unwilling to compromise on taxes. Governor Inslee promised, while he was campaigning for office, that he would not support new taxes. And yet, in his most recent press conference he claimed that those who are keeping HIS promise are being obstructionist.
Olympia has just had its second Sine Die. But nothing is finished. Democrats and the governor need to hear from the public that everyone is tired of this strategy of holding a budget hostage and scare tactics.
The debate comes down to this: how will we fund the budget – with increased taxation or not? We must write a budget that uses the increased taxes we already have and live within our means. Living within our means is possible. The state is forecasted to bring in $2 billion more than the last budget cycle. This is much stronger footing than we've had in the past. The threat of impending taxation continues solely because of the D.C. politics our new governor has brought to Washington.
I am interested to hear your thoughts about the budget and the work we are doing in Olympia. Please feel free to pass this e-mail along to others who may be interested. You can sign up for my e-mail updates by clicking here. Additionally, if you have any questions or concerns about state government, please contact my office. I am here to be a resource for you.