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Friends and Neighbors,

The House has concluded its work for today following the passage of two supplemental state budgets. When state lawmakers return on Monday, only 11 days will remain in the 60-day legislative session.

In previous email updates, I’ve talked about the six certified initiatives that were sent by the people of our state to the Legislature. For weeks, I and members of my caucus have been calling for public hearings on these initiatives. Additionally, the ranking and assistant ranking members of House committees sent letters to the chairs and vice chairs of these committees asking for public hearings.

Well, we’ve made some progress. The majority party has agreed to give public hearings to three of the six initiatives, including one of the measures I requested. Below are the initiatives that will receive public hearings, including links on how you can weigh in. I encourage you to let your voice be heard.

I-2111 | Prohibiting state and local personal income taxes

Since I’m the ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee, I will have a role in this public hearing and look forward to hearing from Washingtonians.

I-2081 | Establishing a Parents’ Bill of Rights

I-2113 | Restoring vehicular pursuits for law enforcement

But there is some bad news. Three initiatives will not receive public hearings: I-2117 (Repealing the carbon tax/cap-and-trade program); I-2124 (Opting out of the state long-term care program and payroll tax); and I-2109 (Repealing the capital gains tax). Since the majority party has refused to hear and adopt these initiatives, they will advance to the ballot in November.

Again, I support all six initiatives and believe the Legislature should pass them before the legislative session adjourns. You can learn more about all of them at this website: Initiatives | 2024.

Supplemental state budgets

The most important thing state lawmakers have to do from now until March 7 is pass supplemental state budgets, including operating, transportation and capital budgets. In even-numbered years, like 2024, the Legislature makes midcourse adjustments to these two-year state spending plans that passed the year before. The House and Senate develop their respective plans first and then come together to work out differences on final versions. It requires a lot of work behind the scenes.

Operating budget

The operating budget funds K-12 education, higher education, corrections, human services, and other state government operations. It is by far the largest of the three state budgets.

I voted against this bill today for a few reasons. First, Republicans were not part of the negotiations — like the other two state budgets. This is not good for our state. Second, the proposal does not address some of the key affordability issues facing Washingtonians — like increased costs for gas, home energy, and housing. Last, it spreads a lot of new state spending across various line items without a lot of transparency, including another $2.2 billion over current state spending levels — spending more rather than providing tax relief.

All totaled, this proposal would increase our overall state spending to $72 billion. For more perspective: At a time when family budgets are under a lot of pressure, our operating budget has more than doubled over the last ten years.

Transportation budget

The transportation budget pays for capital projects, operating programs, and debt service. Unlike the operating budget, this budget has been under a lot of stress and it has required state lawmakers to make some tough choices.

I voted for this measure today because it addresses emergent needs in our state transportation system, including new investments in preservation and maintenance and for the Washington State Patrol. It also reflects bipartisan collaboration — something I appreciate. As the former ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, I know what goes into creating this budget and why it is important to have both Democrats and Republicans at the table.

Capital budget

The capital budget, also referred to as the construction budget, makes vital investments across our state. While we did not vote on this legislation today, I support the proposal because it prioritizes K-12 school construction, housing, mental health facilities, and early learning facilities — all critical needs for our state.

My seatmate, Rep. Peter Abbarno, is the ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee and lead negotiator for our caucus. He did a great job helping craft this plan and including funding for projects in the 20th District. Some of these projects include:

  • $4.9 million for a Cowlitz County and Cowlitz PUD landfill methane capture project.  
  • $2.7 million to replace and upgrade heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units in living units and workspaces at Green Hill School. 
  • $1.9 million for the Boys & Girls Club of Lewis County’s United Learning Center. 
  • $1.1 million for the Cascadia Tech Natural Resources Learning Center in Kalama.  
  • $206,000 for the Southwest Washington Fair and Equestrian Center.  

Nothing is guaranteed as these projects still need to be part of the final supplemental capital budget yet to be negotiated, but it is encouraging that they are included in this proposal.

Stay involved in the homestretch

I encourage you to stay involved over these last few days as important decisions are made in your Legislature. As always, I welcome you to contact me by phone, email, or mail.

Sincerely,


Ed Orcutt

State Representative Ed Orcutt, 20th Legislative District
RepresentativeEdOrcutt.com
408 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
ed.orcutt@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7990 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000