Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Though the regular session adjourned April 28, a budget agreement could not be hammered out in time, so the governor will be calling us into a special session on May 13. Time will tell if I need to go back to Olympia right away, or wait for budget writers and caucus leaders to make a deal so I can go back and vote. Why are we in a special session for the fourth year in a row? Because the House and the Senate proposed very different proposals to balance our state budget and increase education funding required by the McCleary state Supreme Court ruling.
The Senate, with a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats, passed a budget that does not increase taxes, while allocating about $1 billion more in targeted education funding. You can read more about the proposal here.
The House, with a Democrat majority, passed a very partisan budget that increases education funding that is not targeted, and is dependent on new taxes on most small businesses across our state.
With another Supreme Court ruling, unfortunately taxes can now be increased without a two-thirds vote of both chambers in the Legislature. What's incredible is our state is expecting to bring in $2 billion more in the next budget cycle than we currently are, due solely to economic growth. We don't need to raise taxes fund the state's priorities. House Democrats' original proposal would have increased taxes by $1.2 billion, but after a public hearing and outcry from across the state (read more here), those tax increases now amount to $879 million. That's still more than taxpayers and our economy can afford. Increasing taxes only addresses the symptoms of the economic downturn. We must address the problem of the downturn, by providing ways for employers to build, grow, expand and hire again.
Since the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus is serious about living within our means (as are House Republicans), the House Democrats are serious about increasing taxes, and our governor has proposed a budget with tax increases as well, overtime is needed. While I'm disappointed the Legislature could not complete its work in the 105 days allotted by our state constitution, measures are being taken to ensure costs are kept to a minimum, and my hope is that the outcome is on the side of taxpayers.
In the meantime, I am back in Spokane and have set up a district office next door to the Spokane County Courthouse. My legislative aide, Josh Kerns, is staffing the office, and even when I go back to Olympia he will remain in Spokane to serve you. The office is located at:
901 N Monroe, Suite 354
Spokane, WA 99201
Feel free to stop by, or call (509) 443-3331 if you have any questions, concerns or would like my assistance. I would also love to visit your community group or organization for tours, or to give a summary of the session and take questions. Just call the office and Josh will find a time that works for both of us.