Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have just reached the mid-point of this year's legislative session and are about a week away from concluding policy consideration for bills originating in the House. Of keynote are the budget proposals that have come out of each caucus and the direction being proposed for our economy. However, before I get into that, I want to say thank you for your continued engagement, support, and prayers. Please continue to contact me with all your input and concerns. My door is always open.
Finally, before I move onto the budgets and economy, our office has been burning the midnight oil working to stop several different issues that would hurt Washington, including several radical police reform bills that go too far and would make our communities unsafe. More to come on those as session progresses!
Republican Operating Budget Provides Real Solutions, No New Taxes
One of the biggest issues we face is our two-year state operating budget, which must be passed before the legislative session can end. This is always a monumental task. However, this year, the economic effects of the COVID-19 shutdown have made this even harder. Not only must we find a way to fund important state programs and services supporting health and recovery, but we also must provide real relief and solutions to all Washington citizens forced to stop earning income.
House Republicans introduced their budget proposal recently, and I'm happy to report our plan would continue funding important state services, offer real financial solutions for COVID-19 relief, help the people who need help the most, and do it all without raising your taxes. You read that right. We said it could be done, and now we've shown it. While it's unusual for a minority party to produce a budget (especially with their limited resources compared to the majority), we collectively felt that this year demanded proof in the positive. It was a heavy lift, especially with being forced into a remote session format where we could not meet in person with staff, but we got it done.
Here are just a few of the things our budget would accomplish and the people it would help:
- Funds the Working Families Tax Credit for the first time in its 12-year history ($600M)
- Sales tax exemption for basic necessities, like prepared food and diapers ($293M)
- $300 stipends to low-income families to defray cost of remote learning ($160M)
- Grants and higher rates for child care providers; copay assistance for families ($114M)
- Replenishes the unemployment insurance (UI) fund to replace fraud losses and mitigate skyrocketing UI taxes ($500M), because our businesses should not be held responsible for government mismanagement.
- Temporary B&O tax relief for restaurants and other hard-hit businesses ($94M)
- Authorizes B&O, property tax and liquor fee deferrals for small businesses
- Boosts funding for the state's tourism marketing campaign ($12M)
- Increased federal allocations to school districts, contingent on reopening ($156M)
- Equitable enrichment funding for charter schools ($44M)
- Learning “catch up,” prioritized for historically disadvantaged populations ($500M)
- Additional STEM enrollment slots at state universities and community colleges ($30M)
- Rate increases for providers of developmental disability/long-term care (DD/LTC), behavioral health, and primary care ($430M)
- Flexible, ongoing homelessness funding for cities and counties that clean up encampments near schools, parks and playgrounds and ban injection sites ($736M)
- Investments in community behavioral health, triple the Governor's proposal ($225M)
All of Washington
- No new taxes on anyone or anything
- Additional funds for foundational public health without taxing health insurance ($300M)
- Funds DNR's forest health management plan, reducing wildfires and pollution ($260M)
- Maximizes production at state hatcheries to support fish populations ($12M)
Our state has enough money. We do not need to raise taxes, especially while so many people and small businesses are still struggling to recover. This budget shows that we CAN fund state services, we CAN provide real relief for all Washingtonians, and we CAN do it without increasing your taxes. This is the kind of legislation that offers real solutions.
On the other hand, below we have a proposal just forced out of the House over the weekend – as quietly as possible. Combined with the other tax increase proposals, it is becoming clear that the plan is seemingly to use COVID as a justification to raise taxes under the auspices of helping recovery. Fortunately, several Democrats, even the majority party leader, joined with Republicans and voted against this proposal.
Low-Carbon Fuel Standard = Tax the Poor & Give to the Corporate Elite
This Saturday, with little media coverage, the House majority party chose to pass one of the most regressive and corporate favoring bills our state has ever seen, a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS). I am compelled to write you because with an empowered united voice, we can stop this massive bait and switch.
Regressivity and hypocrisy go hand-in-hand – and legislators are divided
After just introducing a capital gains income tax plan under the argument of creating a less regressive taxing structure, we now see this massively regressive tax proposal being rushed through. Make no mistake, this bill picks winners and losers, and the winners will be the rich corporate elite… while the rest of us foot the bill!
Gas tax and home heating cost increases – hurts the working class
This bill will raise our gas tax by 57 to 63 cents per gallon! How do we know? Because California implemented a LCFS in 2007, and we have the data in hand. We also know that this tax on energy will raise the monthly rates we all pay to heat and cool our homes. How is this responsible? In no uncertain terms, this will be a massive disservice to those struggling to pay monthly bills and still put food on the table. Worse yet, California transportation emissions are still growing! It literally and demonstrably doesn't work and hurts the most vulnerable!
Farming, trucking, and trade – food prices will go up and our state economy will go down
The worst part of this LCFS is that it will raise the cost of food while at the same time driving the very farmers who grow it out-of-business. By raising the costs to farm and ship food, this bill also puts at risk a major tenet of our state economy: global trade. This sector of our economy provides thousands and thousands of jobs. Rather than risking it, we should seek to grow it with innovation.
Even California agrees – it just doesn't work
Since California enacted their LCFS, their economy has gone down while wildfires and emissions have gone up, all while people continue to flee the state for better options. Now, in a state of sheer unrest and unaccountability, voters are seeking to recall their governor and I don't blame them!
We can do better – and we can
How can we do this to families struggling to recover from COVID? It is so tone deaf, it really reveals the persuasive nature of the corporate lobby promoting it… and that is both sad and scary. Therefore, as your Washington state representative, I urge you to call your state senator and demand they reject this bill. Don't wait!
Stay Connected with The Legislature
As a reminder, you can visit my website here and follow the bills I'm sponsoring here. You can watch all committee and floor action on TVW by clicking here. And you can learn more about how you can stay involved in this remote legislative session, including testifying remotely, by clicking here (House) or here (Senate).
Thank You for Your Support!
Thank you again for your continued support. I'm dedicated to representing you and being your voice in the Legislature. Please keep reaching out to me to share your thoughts, opinions, and concerns. I look forward to meeting in-person with you again as soon as we can. Until then, you can contact me by phone and email, as well as via Zoom. I can also be reached in-district at 360-480-5970. I will continue reaching out to you with further updates and other forms of communication. Thank you!
In strength and honor,