Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are down to the final days of the 2014 legislative session. This year are scheduled for a short 60-day session and it is very likely that we will get done on time. This week, the House and Senate passed their own versions of supplemental budget proposals – operating, transportation and capital. Budget negotiations are ongoing to work out the differences between the two chambers.
The supplemental operating budget, the largest of the three budgets the Legislature votes on annually, was very partisan. If it is adopted by the Senate it could set the stage for significant tax increases in the future. This budget heavily relies on tax revenue and would raise taxes by $100 million. These taxes include a recycled fuel tax, non-resident sales tax, a tax on bottled water and taxation of tobacco substitutes such as e-cigarettes. (You can see an example of how the budgets work together in the picture at right, click for a larger image.)
I voted “no” on the supplemental operating budget in the hope that when the two chambers negotiate further we will reach a common-sense budget that I can support. However, the House Democrat supplemental operating budget did get voted out of the House on a party line vote with one Democrat voting “no” with Republicans.
I voted in support of the supplemental capital state budget which has dedicated funds that go to help our cities and communities. The capital budget is the budget that funds our brick and mortar infrastructure around the state. This year's capital budget provides funding for the construction and repair of public buildings, important investments in higher education, the Department of Corrections, flood relief, mental health, and storm water and water quality.
Finally, we voted on the state supplemental transportation budget. I voted against this budget because I believe serious reforms are needed to increase accountability within the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). This budget asks for millions more in tax dollars from hardworking taxpayers without new oversight to ensure we are not further investing in failed WSDOT projects. Additionally, there was $450,000 allocated to the State Transportation Commission to study a change from the gas tax to a road user fee. Privacy concerns aside, a road user fee would unfairly impact rural communities because folks in those areas drive more miles to get to the grocery store, work and school.
My bill that would require an order to allow hemp seed as an ingredient in animal feed, House Bill 2405, received great support but fell victim to the 5:00 p.m. cut-off deadline yesterday.
Current research suggests that hemp seed provides benefits to animal health, animal welfare, and the resulting animal product for certain classes of animals. I am working with the Department of Agriculture to create a budget proviso which would allow them to do a study and implement their findings.
When interim begins I plan to spend time around the state. As I continue in my new role as the leading Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, I will be meet with various agriculture groups in order to more fully understand their individual processes, operations and unique challenges. Please remember I am here to be a resource for you; my door is always open. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative for the 42nd District.
I encourage constituents to contact me with their thoughts and opinions. My contact information is all listed on my website at www.representativevincentbuys.com. Please feel free to pass this e-mail along to others who can sign-up for my e-mail updates by clicking this link: receive Rep. Buys email updates.