Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With less than two weeks left in the 2013 regular session, work on the state budget is really starting to heat up. As I reported to you in my last e-newsletter, Gov. Jay Inslee's budget proposal included about $1.2 billion in new and increased taxes. This, despite his campaign promise that tax increases would not be needed. I guess in his mind, repealing tax incentives for employers to help them create jobs in our state and extending business and occupations (B&O) taxes set to expire this year, do not qualify as “tax increases.” I disagree. But I'd like to know what you think about this. Click the graphic on the right to take a quick, one-question survey and let me know if you think that repealing tax incentives and extending taxes set to expire does or does not constitute a tax increase.
Last week, the bipartisan Senate Majority Coalition passed their budget out of the Senate. Here are some quick highlights:
- It's a true “bipartisan budget” with “yeas” and “nays” from both sides of the aisle
- Contains no new taxes
- Spends $1.5 billion more on education with about $1 billion of that being for the state Supreme Court McCleary decision
- Spends $300 million more for higher education and reduces tuitions costs for our parents and students
- Balances out for four years! (no more budget rollercoaster!)
While it's not exactly how we would write the state budget over here in the House, it is a good start toward reaching a compromise that allows us to finish our work on time. There are some fund transfers and other issues that trouble me, but overall, it's a much more balanced budget than what we saw from the governor. Click here to read what our House Republican budget leader, Rep. Gary Alexander, had to say on the Senate budget. Click here for more detailed information on the Senate budget.
In contrast to the no-new-taxes approach from the Senate, the House Democrats have decided to rely on about $1.22 billion in new taxes for their budget – despite the fact that we expect to take in $2 billion more in revenues over the next two-year budget cycle! As it currently stands, their budget has a “placeholder” for over $500 million in tax increases. That's right. As of this writing, we still don't know exactly what taxes will be raised. It's “To Be Determined.” Not a smart way to budget if you ask me.
Their budget also completely drains the state's “Rainy Day Account” and then leaves only about $300 million in reserves. With so many things happening on the national and international level, it doesn't take much to imagine a scenario where our state economy's fragile recovery hits a serious snag. It would be much smarter to leave the rainy day fund alone and to leave a little more money in reserves so that if a bump in the road does occur, legislators are not left scrambling with special sessions trying to rewrite the budget so that it balances.
At the end of the day, the House Democrat budget looks very partisan and nothing like the cooperative agreement we've seen from the Senate. It passed off the floor of the House Friday night without one House Republican vote. Contrast that with the Senate's bipartisan budget. Democrat and Republican Senators voting for the Senate budget represent 30 of the state's 49 legislative districts, 38 of the 39 counties (San Juan County), and over 4.2 million citizens!
Abortion funding in the state budget: why I voted NO
Those of you who know me well know that I am unabashedly a supporter of life. I believe life begins at conception. This belief is part of who I am as an individual, a mother, a wife and a legislator. For me, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” cannot be defined, experienced or protected absent the beating heart of those still in their mothers' wombs. I gave a speech on the House floor against the House Democrat budget that reiterated this belief and pointed out the fact that their budget spends $1.426 million in tax dollars on abortion. There are many in our state and our legislative district that share my beliefs and we are appalled this money is being confiscated against our will for this deplorable act. For that reason – and many more – I felt compelled to vote against their budget.
If you'd like to view my speech on the House floor, click the picture on the right.
Having grown up on a fourth-generation farm in rural Illinois, and living in the beautiful 39th District, I can appreciate the benefits – both on the plate and in the pockets of employers – that the beef industry brings to our state. I'm a huge fan of Washington's farming heritage and the products that we enjoy here at home and ship abroad.
Last week was Beef Day in Olympia, sponsored by the Washington Cattleman's Association, the Washington State Dairy Federation and more. They barbequed beef sandwiches and provided milk and chips for legislators, staff, lobbyists and guests to the state Capitol. As a freshman legislator, I had heard that Beef Day was a pretty big deal in Olympia. Little did I know HOW BIG! It was a nice little break in the legislative action. We had some good weather and a few minutes to enjoy some good food with some good folks.
One of the Senators from the Democrat Caucus routinely puts out a “Beef Day Video.” I thought it was a clever way to promote the beef producers. It's also kind of a “behind the scenes” look at the day. Click on the picture of me on the right to watch the short, three minute video.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about state issues. And let me know if you plan on visiting Olympia during the last week of session. It would be great to see you!
Thanks for the honor of serving you in the state Legislature.
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7816 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000