Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you are probably aware, last week the legislature went into it's second over-time. After 105 days, and then 30 more, we still had not found consensus on a budget. And, with nearly $2 billion in new tax revenue expected, there is no call for budget negotiations to have carried on so long. While the continuation is frustrating, we have achieved more in the last two weeks than most of the first special session.
On June 13, one day into the new session, we passed two bills that required extensive negotiations Senate Bill 5296 and House Bill 2075 also passed that day. Because of House Bill 2075, our state now has a tax that didn't exist before 2005 but it will apply to trusts created as far back as the 1980s. This is unfair. I voted “no” on this bill. Yet, in an effort to find compromise on the budget, this bill did pass both houses and was signed by the governor.
As the ranking republican on the House Capitol Budget Committee, I have spent a lot of time in Olympia during the special sessions discussing the Capital Budget. As most of you know, there is little that can be done on the final capital budget without knowing the parameters set by the operating budget. However, because of our recent progress I am more optimistic that the Legislature will continue to work effectively. Capital budget writers should be to find solutions and consensus soon after the operating budget is composed.
News from the State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council further increases our chances of reaching agreement on the budget soon. The council released their quarterly forecast June 18. It states there is at least $231 million more in tax revenue than previously expected that can be used in the operating budget.
With this forecast all the pieces are now in place for the Legislature to finally finish its work. Washington will have enough money to fund its growth and inflation, and still put millions toward education, without new taxes. There are no excuses now. Finding a consensus on the operating budget is not only doable, it's what you – the citizens of Washington – deserve from your state government.
This is much stronger footing we've had in the past. The threat of impending taxation continues solely because of the D.C. politics of our new governor, his strategy of holding the budget hostage and scare tactics. There is no call for a “government shutdown” and the forecast confirms that.
In our district
Once the budget has been completed I will be spending more time in our district and meeting with residents in my new Shelton office. If you haven't had the chance to stop by, feel free to pay us a visit. Both me, and my Legislative Assistant Kevin Shutty, will be happy to speak with you in person. The office is located at 327 W. Railroad St, Shelton.
I am looking forward to working along side you to make our communities stronger. Not all legislators take the time and effort to invest in a district office. However, I believe that the best ideas don't come from politicians and lobbyists in Olympia – they come from the citizens. My office is a resource for you and I hope that a local office will give you more chances to be a part of the law making process.
Please stop in any time you have questions, need help with state government or if you would just like to talk with your state representative. Or, call the local office at (360) 868-2189. Our local office means we can meet with you even if you can't make the trip to Olympia.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your voice in the state Legislature.