Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am home now after spending the last 60 days in Olympia. It was good to see the Legislature adjourn on time with no special session, something that hasn't happened since 2009. I want to again thank all of you who contacted my office during session to express your thoughts and opinions. I really do appreciate hearing where you stand on the issues we're debating in Olympia.
The day before session ended I was extremely honored to meet Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Staff Sgt. Ty Carter who attended North Central High School in Spokane. After spending time as a Marine, Carter joined the Army where he served with distinction when he and his 50-man troop were ambushed by over 300 enemy fighters. To read more about his actions, click here.
I voted no on the final supplemental operating budget agreement. I believe it relies too much on federal dollars at a time when federal spending and our federal debt are much too high. I also believe the budget agreement was rushed and negotiated at the last minute, denying the public (and legislators) a chance to fully understand what it contained. At the end of the day, the budget increased spending by $155 million at a time when taxpayers are stretched thin and folks are still recovering from the economic recession.
Public Safety and Education
As a former police officer, I spent years on the street seeing the devastating impacts that crime can have on our communities. It's one of the main reasons I ran for elected office. The basic fundamental role of government is to provide law and order – to keep our citizens and communities safe. As a member of the House Public Safety Committee, much of the work I do in Olympia is centered around these issues.
I believe the first step in combating crime takes place in our schools. A thriving, successful education system is essential to giving students hope and providing a glimpse of what their futures can be. The statistics relating to crime and an educated populace are staggering and hard to refute. That's why education is one of my top priorities in Olympia.
My first two priorities (public safety and education) lead directly to my third priority: local economic development. The Spokane area, including Cheney and the surrounding region, has much to offer employers and employees with safe communities and an educated workforce standing by. I have been working with local officials, local businessmen and women, other legislators and community leaders to extol the benefits of doing business in Eastern Washington. My goal – and I firmly believe this is attainable – is to see entire economic sectors relocating to the West Plains area. There is no reason that the next carbon fiber plant for BMW, or the next computer storage facility for Yahoo or Microsoft can't be built in our area. I'm actively working to remove any obstacles that would prohibit these types of employers from relocating to Spokane/Cheney.
Check out this article in The Spokesman-Review: “West Plains rail upgrade gaining speed”
I invite your comments on these and other issues as we continue to make our state, and specifically the 6th Legislative District, a great place to live, work and raise our families. Also, please let me know if you'd like me to come speak to your civic organization, church group or community meeting. I'm always happy to give a report of what happened in the Legislature this year and how you can stay involved.
Thank you for the honor of serving you in Olympia.