Friends and Neighbors,
We're now past the halfway mark of the legislative session in Olympia. Most of this week we've been voting on bills on the House floor. Here's an update on all the action…
Telephone town hall
Tuesday was our 20th District telephone town hall with me, Rep. Richard DeBolt and Sen. John Braun. We had a great discussion on a range of topics, including transportation and the gas tax, education funding, health care, flood control and limiting government.
The number of people on the telephone town hall reached 934 at the highest point, up from 825 last year. And the total number of callers over the course of the call was 4,874. We also asked some poll questions during the call. Here are the results:
1. Do you think extending temporary tax increases (on items like bottled water) are the same as increasing taxes?
2. Should sales tax paid on transportation projects be used to fund:
Transportation Projects: 75%
Social Services: 13%
3. The state Supreme Court recently told the legislature it needs to put more money into education right away despite the fact we spent a billion-and-a-half dollars more on K-12 education in last year's budget. Do you agree with the state Supreme Court?
Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the call. We appreciate your interest and your thoughtful questions.
There's been renewed talk in Olympia this week of a transportation package that would raise the gas tax by 11.5 cents per gallon. As the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, I was involved in transportation negotiations late last year – with the primary purpose of protecting the taxpayers. We haven't had any meetings since December. I was, and remain, concerned about a number of aspects of an increase in the gas tax.
First, most people in the 20th District can't afford a gas tax hike. Second, the 20th District wouldn't get much of anything in the way of transportation improvements. We would be mostly paying for mega-projects in Seattle and Spokane. Third, the Washington State Department of Transportation is currently experiencing massive cost overruns on its two big mega-projects: the tunnel-digging machine known as “Bertha” in Seattle, and the SR 520 bridge replacement over Lake Washington. The last thing we should do is give WSDOT more of your tax dollars when it can't handle the projects it's managing now.
I am here to serve you
Passage of bills and budgets is not all I do. Though difficult to do during session, I am working to help constituents who are having problems with state agencies, such as:
- Helping citizens deal with the Department of Transportation, and
- Working to get answers – and solutions – from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding elk hoof rot
These are just a couple of the items I am working on even during session.
If you are having a problem with a state agency and need help, please feel free to contact my office – I am here to serve you.
Watch my video update
In my latest video update I discuss Gov. Inslee's $200 million tax hike plan, why raising the minimum wage isn't a good idea, and what the Legislature can do to help create jobs. Please click below if you'd like to watch: