It has been awhile since connecting with you due to election-year restrictions, but those have ended and I will be sending out more regular updates.
In my first newsletter, I want to take a moment to recognize the great people who call our district home.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, students in the University of Washington marching band were in a serious bus accident en route to Pullman for the Apple Cup game at WSU. Injured students were taken to hospitals in Quincy, Ephrata, and as far away as Othello and missed the game. The members of our community worked with school officials to check on students scattered at area hospitals to get them things like food and clothes in their time of need. Moses Lake hotels banded together to get them rooms, and the elementary school in George opened their doors for a potluck for the students. Businesses in the area and regular citizens showed the UW students what Eastern Washington values are all about. In fact, the WSU band learned the UW fight song the morning of the game since the students couldn’t make it. I want thank Lisa Karstetter and Sma Krauscheid for their leadership during that time. I’m so thankful to all of the first responders, many of whom are volunteers, and residents of our communities for stepping up in a big way.
Looking ahead to 2019
Things are starting to get busy as the 2019 legislative session approaches. I recently was re-elected by my Senate Republican colleagues to serve as the Caucus Vice Chair. In that role, I assist running our meetings as part of the leadership team. I will continue my role as the ranking member on the Senate’s water and agricultural committee.
Over the interim (the period between legislative sessions), I’ve been busy on a number of issues, including working with stakeholders on addressing affordable housing in rural parts of our state. Right now, the state’s housing investments are heavily concentrated in the Puget Sound area, but the reality is that the homelessness and housing affordability crisis is happening in our communities, too. I’m exploring ways so we can more efficiently and fairly distribute those tax dollars to build more affordable housing units in rural Washington, in addition to reforming the state’s outdated regulations that restrict housing supply.
I’ll be sure to send more updates on these policies soon.
This past week we’ve had a lot of news coming out of Olympia. A strong economy has meant the state is expected to take in record amounts of tax revenue, about $50 billion. That is much more than we expected when we approved the last budget in 2017. I firmly believe we can make any investments with the considerable resources you’ve already sent state government.
However, the Governor’s recently unveiled budget takes a starkly different approach. He is proposing an additional 20 percent increase in state spending paid for with an unconstitutional income tax, increased taxes on small businesses and property tax hikes. We need to take a critical look at how the state is spending your money. Newspapers around the state have been saying we don’t need new taxes to fund the real priorities of state government. Read a recent editorial by the Walla Walla Union Bulletin entitled, New taxes shouldn’t be first approach to state budget.
On that note, I want your feedback. Please take a moment to fill out this short survey on what you’d like me to focus on during the upcoming legislative session. Click here to be taken to the survey.