Friends and Neighbors,As most of you know by now, budget writers in both the House and Senate were unable to come to an agreement on the state's next two-year spending plan. As a result, the governor has called for a special session to begin on May 13. However, the governor has publicly said he wants the Legislature to address certain policy issues during the special session, not just the state budget. Things like gun control and the abortion mandate bill have proven to be divisive in Olympia. The Legislature – and the taxpayers – would be better served if lawmakers focused on the budget and not policy issues that cause friction with legislators and divide the public.
In my last e-newsletter, I asked you to participate with citizens around the state in our online poll question: “Do you think repealing a tax incentive for employers is the same as increasing taxes?” You can see the statewide results in the chart on the left.
One of my frustrations about the tax debate and the special session is that budget writers are still debating the SIZE of the state budget, not necessarily what goes INTO the state budget. Because Gov. Inslee reneged on his campaign promise of not raising taxes, budget writers don't know for sure how much money they can spend. We know what the state revenue forecast says so we know exactly how much money the state expects to take in over the next two years. But with tax increases still on the table for the governor and for House Democrats, they're debating which taxes to raise and by how much when they should be prioritizing services within existing revenues.
I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: our citizens expect state government to live within EXISTING MEANS. If budget writers from the majority party in the House spent as much time prioritizing services and looking at different ways to streamline government as they do looking at possible tax increases, we would not need a special session. Budgets would be completed, balanced, and we would not be heading into a special session.
House Democrat's pass nearly $900 million in tax increases off the House floor…
Here's a quick look at the taxes that passed off the House floor last week (without one Republican vote) in House Bill 2038:
- $534 million – Would permanently extend the business and occupation (B&O) surtax on certain businesses.
- $14.6 million – B&O tax rates for travel agents.
- $51.5 million – Would place sales and use tax on bottled water. This is the same tax that was repealed by voters in 2010.
- $43 million – Would repeal the nonresident sales and use tax exemption. This could especially hit our border counties very hard along the Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia borders.
- $78.7 million – B&O taxes for high-tech research and development.
- $63.2 million – Public utility tax on truck transport of goods in state that are destined for out of state.
- $24.1 million – B&O and sales and use taxes for import commerce.
- $29 million – B&O tax for sellers of prescription drugs.
- $40.8 million – Fuel tax for extracted fuel.
- $5.2 million – Handling losses fuel tax.
TOTAL: $879 million
I was extremely proud to join my House Republican colleagues in a major battle on the House floor against these unnecessary tax increases. If you want to see some of the video highlights of our floor speeches and why we don't think taxes are necessary, click here.
I'm very happy to report that two of my bills were passed by the Legislature and await the governor's signature.
House Bill 1397 requires that schools that teach sexual health to students must also provide the legal ramifications of sex with a minor. It's important for teenagers to realize not just the health and safety aspects of sexual health education, but the legal aspects as well. This bill took a couple years of work on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers. The governor signed this bill into law on May 1.
House Bill 1752 makes changes to the commercial driver's licenses, applications, and commercial learner's permits laws in order to comply with federal law and avoid the withholding of federal funds that would result from noncompliance. While the bill is more technical in nature, it is still something that needed to be done. I've always prided myself on being able to disagree with my colleagues in Olympia when needed, without being disagreeable. I believe this has allowed me to push through legislation for my constituents and the state when needed. This bill still awaits the governor's signature.
I'll keep you informed as the special session progresses. If you want to watch some of my video updates from the session, click here. And please feel free to pass this e-newsletter on to friends and family.
Thank for you for the honor of serving you in the state Legislature.