Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2017 legislative session has concluded. We've started a 30-day special session to continue the work on the budget. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the victories achieved during the 105-day regular session.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls | Transportation accomplishment
I have made it clear that one of my top priorities as your state representative has been to foster bold reforms to tackle the transportation related issues on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I have continued to fight in your favor to decrease the bridge tolls. I've kept my promise and the 2017 session brought more relief.
We are making headway to reverse the trend on the underlying bonds used to finance the construction of the bridge. The subsequent repayment on the bonds brings the haunting reality of why we continue to see, and are threatened with, increased tolls. WSDOT is trying to put the burden of repaying the bonds on the taxpayer.
The first push began during the 2016 session to ensure you, the taxpayer, weren't responsible for paying down the construction bonds. We were able to facilitate the one-time redistribution of $2.5 million from the Motor Vehicle Fund to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge fund to cover the bonds. This effort meant tolls weren't raised at all in 2016, saving you $7.5 million in toll fares. Short-term victory!
This session, I went back to work trying to provide permanent relief. With true bipartisan work, Democrat Rep. Christine Kilduff, of University Place, and I crafted a set of complementary solutions that will stop toll increases until 2020. With this bit of budgetary breathing room, we have assertively created a unique workgroup to engage local communities and private sector partners to seek out long-term solutions. I've rolled up my sleeves and will not quit until we are assured there will be NO further toll increases on the bridge!
(photo: Reps. Jesse Young and Christine Kilduff on the House floor)
Legislative update | Fulfilling my promises to YOU
There are four things I promised I'd work diligently on for you, as your state representative.
NO NEW TAXES. I promised you I would fight for a balanced budget, without raising taxes. I am proud to say we fought the governor's initiative to include new taxes in the 2015-16 budget. We were able to pass a balanced budget without raising taxes, and continue to live within our means. We have a tough fight ahead of us in this 30-day special session. The state has revenue coming in, and we can once again live within our means. Rest assured I will continue to fight to ensure this happens.
TEACHER COLAs. I promised you I would fight to return teacher cost of living adjustments (COLAs), which were taken away under the 2007 Democratic-led budget cutbacks. I am happy to say we accomplished this in my first term in office, and teacher COLA's were reinstated in the 2015-16 budget. We approved them again in the upcoming 2017-18 budget.
REDUCING COLLEGE TUITION. I promised you I would fight to reduce tuition at in-state colleges and universities. In 2015, we became the first state in the U.S. to effectively reduce college tuition costs. We continue to work hard to keep it that way!
STOPPING TOLL INCREASES ON TNB. I promised you I would be the first legislator to stop the scheduled toll increases on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The work I have done will ultimately save the 26th District commuters over $80 million between now and 2020. That's a big promise to keep, and I'm proud to deliver it for you.
- It's an honor to serve you.