April 24, 2017
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Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
The 2017 legislative session ended over the weekend and today marks the beginning of a special session. Although the Senate has approved a balanced and funded budget, we have been waiting for the House Democrats to come to the table with an actual, complete budget proposal. They have a spending wish list, but have failed to pass the necessary $8 billion in tax increases to pay for it. With the state expecting $3 billion more in revenue through a combination of stable tax rates and increased economic activity, leaders of the House majority should be negotiating within the resources the state actually has. Instead, it appears that they are forcing the Legislature into another so-called “special” session.
Inaction is not new for the House. There have been several pressing issues facing the Legislature this year that they have failed to act on.
Despite bipartisan support and heart-wrenching stories from people around the state, the Democrat-controlled House did nothing to bring relief to families in need of water from small, household wells. My legislation, Senate Bill 5239, would have reversed the Supreme Court’s shortsighted Hirst decision, which has placed rural communities in jeopardy by prohibiting the installation of domestic wells without costly studies.
The chair of the Senate’s Capital Budget recently sat down for an interview with the state’s public-access channel to discuss his work, and made it clear that rural communities must have a Hirst fix before any movement on the budget. You can watch that interview here.
My Video Update
This time of year is busy as we are working on the Senate floor approving bills that have made their way through the final stages of the legislative process. During a break in the action, I took an opportunity to make this video update discussing the legislative session. Please click here to watch.
Afraid of Taxes
The Senate didn’t need new taxes to balance our new 2017-19 budget proposal, which will fund education and other critical state services. We relied on the considerable amount of additional new revenue – about $3 billion more – expected to come into the state treasury through the combination of stable tax rates and increased economic activity.
The House spending proposal, in contrast, is predicated on $8 billion in taxes. It can’t be considered a real budget because the House majority is unwilling to vote for the new taxes necessary to implement their proposal.
In an effort to get past posturing by the House majority and initiate serious negotiations toward a new state budget, our Senate majority introduced the same tax increases that the House and governor support in their spending plans. We wanted to bring them to a vote and see if there really is an appetite for raising taxes among any Democrat lawmakers in Olympia. As we expected, the Senate’s minority Democrats did everything they could to stave off votes on increasing taxes. You can watch the proceedings here.
I’m pleased the Senate minority agreed with our position that new taxes are not necessary. Whether their Democrat colleagues in the House will now come to the table and negotiate during the upcoming special session remains to be seen.
It is an honor to serve as your state Senator. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your state government. Please watch your email, as I look forward to providing you with regular updates throughout the session.
13th District Senator
103 Irv Newhouse Bldg.
P.O. Box 40410
Olympia, WA 98504
The end of the regular session
April 24, 2017