Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Over the years, I've made a number of promises to you as I've sought your trust for service within the state House of Representatives. Of these promises, one of the most important is my pledge to be accountable and transparent.
Transparency isn't selective
Recently, the Legislature covertly introduced and hastily passed Senate Bill 6617, concerning the records disclosure obligations of the legislative branch. I voted against this policy. Here's why:
- It allows for no transparency with regard to the rules that decide what information is shared and/or made available to the public. Remember, you are our boss, not the other way around.
- This bill was fast tracked without legislative review or voter input.
- It arbitrarily shields the bureaucratic institution and thereby hinders the work you expect us to do on your behalf. Remember, legislators represent you, not the Capitol or established bureaucracy.
I made a promise to you. You can trust I will always stand for open government and transparency.
On another unfortunate note, the majority party seems to have only one question on their mind this session – what new taxes can they impose on the taxpayer? Yes, that is right I did say taxes in the plural form.
Before I begin, it is important to know that because of the growing economy, our state has naturally increased its revenue intake by $1.3 billion dollars! That means two very important things:
- We now have more $1.3 billion more than was estimated when session began.
- That is $1.3 billion more than Gov. Inslee asked for in his budget request!
So, I have a very simple question (that many of you have reached out to me to convey) – Why do we need to raise taxes?
The truth is, there is no need. Our current surplus shows that the fiscally responsible reforms we fought for over the past few years are working. Our prudence and restraint has allowed our economy to grow. This growth is now leading to new opportunities for our local communities in the form of new job growth and increased earnings.
To reverse course now is the wrong way to go. Many of you have contacted my office to share that you are surviving paycheck to paycheck. While you've scrimped and saved over the past few years, you haven't fully recovered and are in no position to have more of your income taken from you in the form of new taxes.
Please know this, I agree with you and am fighting these attempts at raising our taxes. I will stand against any majority party that wants to increase spending while simultaneously shielding themselves from transparency and asking you to pay new taxes.
The first tax that is being pushed is a carbon tax. Don't be fooled that this tax is about helping our environment. It actually does very little to help the environment (as admitted to by the bills own effect statement). Rather, it is about changing the way you commute, as it will raise the price of gas by $0.20 to $0.40 a gallon. This increase is on top of our current gas tax, which is the second highest in the nation.
We're trying to fight this tax and stand up for our working-class communities and families who shouldn't be taxed just to drive to and from work. Unfortunately, our fight will fail. The majority will not, and have not, accepted any amendments to make this a policy about the environment. There has been no compromise nor any reasonable dialogue. Nothing. This is not how we work together to bring the right solutions forward. Fortunately, the end of this short 60-day session is just around the corner. The fate of this policy is still unknown. That said, we will continue to fight to protect your hard-earned money. We are advocating with members of the majority party about putting this down.
Capital gains tax
Fighting against a capital gains income tax in the Legislature is like suffering from a serious case of déjà vu. Each year an idea to create an income tax on capital gains is introduced, and each year the efforts to move this idea forward are shut down because the will of the people has been loud and clear; no income taxes!
The majority party has done something clever this year. When asked at the beginning of the session, they said this would NOT be pursued this year, but at the last moment, they added the capital gains income tax as part of the supplemental operating budget. I understand that the Democrats are the majority party, but there is no honor in this move. All session they have claimed they wouldn't do this to Washington families and Republicans have negotiated in good faith on that premise. To go back on their word now is the opposite of honorable and transparent leadership, and it is wrong.
As stated previously, the state has an unexpected $1.3 billion in new revenue coming in. Why on earth do we need to impose this tax? The truth is, the majority party knows this is bad for our state. They know this is their set-up to later introduce a full fledged state income tax – something you have rejected ten times! You can trust I will stand against this!
How about reducing property taxes with the surplus we have?
Instead of a carbon or capital gains tax, we need to work to reduce property taxes with the extra surplus money we now have in our coffers. A reasonable solution was introduced and I am proud to help sponsor this effort.
House Bill 3000 would reduce your property taxes THIS year in 2018. This is a needed and very reasonable change and I will fight to ensure this idea becomes a reality! Washington state needs to become a leader in doing what is fiscally right by our taxpayers. The first to see relief should be those on fixed and low-income budgets that are fighting hard to just stay in their homes. This bill seeks to lower your taxes without raising them somewhere else. This is key for three very big reasons:
- This approach won't slow down our economy by adding another tax in exchange for lowering property taxes.
- It will strategically reduce taxes in an area that will foster the building and real estate industries which are vital to job and economic growth.
- This approach will actually increase state revenue in the long run as this change fosters small business growth and blue-collar job growth!
It's a smart and fiscally responsible way to proceed and I'm happy to lead on such an effort.
It is an honor and a pleasure to work for you and to stand up for your individual rights and liberties. I promised you I would stay fiscally responsible and transparent in my leadership and service as your state representative. You can trust that I will always fight to protect your hard-earned tax dollars and your right to hold us accountable!