Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature has adjourned today, two days early. Unfortunately, the governor has called us back for a special session because an agreement could not be found on the state's budget. The governor has other plans for the special session besides just the budget – read more here. I believe we should have stayed in Olympia through Sunday and immediately returned Monday. In fact, I joined my House Republican colleagues to sponsor and sign a resolution asking we return to finish our work right away on Monday. Unfortunately, the governor has called for the special session to begin Wednesday, April 29.
The state is expected to bring in more than $3 billion in additional revenue within existing taxes, and with 105 days, the Legislature had more than enough reasons to complete its work on time. The governor and House Democrats insist we must include tax increases in the final budget solution. Such a position makes it difficult for Senate Republicans to successfully negotiate with them.
While we must finish our work quickly, we simply don't need new taxes on families or small businesses. Although the Puget Sound region has seen economic growth, Spokane County is still experiencing an 8.3 percent unemployment rate, and 12 counties in our state have unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher. New and increased taxes will only inhibit future economic growth.
A proposal to increase the gas tax is still alive, and may be part of special session negotiations. I remain opposed because a majority of you remain opposed, and I represent your interests.
My legislative assistant, Josh Kerns, will be heading back to Spokane to open our district office for the interim, even during special session. You can get in touch with me by calling him at (509) 456-2747. The office will be open Tuesday, April 28 at 9 South Washington, Suite 302 in Spokane.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Olympia, and for your continued feedback about our state government.