Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Although thousands of bills were considered this session, our primary duty as legislators was determining the state's spending plans for the next biennium. Unfortunately, fiscal restraint and responsibility were not top priorities for the pro-tax majority in the state House and Senate.
The recently approved $52.5 billion state operating budget will cost taxpayers an additional $5.5 billion over the next four years. These include:
- a 20% B&O tax increase for certain services;
- a graduated real estate excise tax (REET);
- increased taxes on banks;
- an increase in the hazardous substance tax; and
- tax increases for travel agents and tour operators
I voted against increasing taxes. Here's why: We entered the 2019 session with a budget surplus—our best financial position since the Great Recession. That means we can grow existing services and meet all of our state's obligations—including our commitment to K-12 education, without requiring taxpayers to pay more.
Disheartening as it was to see the debate over more taxes, we won other significant public policy debates. In 2018, school districts were promised their funding would not be reduced by the new K-12 education reforms. I helped fight for and win one-time funding for districts receiving less this year as compared to 2017-18. Bipartisan efforts to expand rural broadband service, address opioid addiction and reject supervised injection sites were also successful.
Community construction and renovation projects funded in the capital budget
Unlike the operating budget and its accompanying tax increases, the 2019-21 capital budget is good news for Washingtonians. The plan prioritizes public education by spending $1.09 billion on K-12 school construction. It also allocates $308 million for state and community-based mental health facilities. In total, this “brick and mortar” construction budget spends $4.9 billion, $3.22 billion of which is from the sale of general obligation funds.
In addition, the investments allocated for the 13th District are exceptional. We were able to secure more than $80 million for community projects including:
- Nutrition Science, Central Washington University – $32 million
- Health Education, Central Washington University – $5 million
- Ellensburg School District – $800,000
- Roslyn Housing Project – $2 million
- Bowers Field Airport – $275,000
- Clymer Museum – $258,000
- Oddfellows Ellensburg Building – $267,000
- Community Services of Moses Lake Food Bank – $2 million
- FISH Food Bank – $772,000
- Quincy Hospital – $300,000
- Quincy Valley Historical Society and Museum – $41,000
- George Community Hall – $201,000
- Roslyn Library – $780,000
- Roslyn Historic Community Center – $233,000
- Roslyn Downtown Association – $480,000
- Big Bend College – $2.24 million
For a complete list of 13th District projects click here. Choose the 13th District from the pull-down menu on the top right-hand side. Click view report.
Better teacher preparatory program entry requirements
Using a single standardized test to determine someone's ability to teach is flawed at best. That's why I sponsored House Bill 1621, recently signed into law by the governor. Although standardized testing remains a requirement, a low result will no longer bar a candidate's admittance into a teacher preparatory program. Colleges and universities can now consider other relevant criteria like volunteerism, previous work experience and GPA. My bill allows more flexibility, helps students and colleges and encourages more people to enter this noble profession.
Quincy district office is open
With the close of the legislative session, I am returning to my regular full-time job. But that doesn't mean I'm done working for you. My district office location is at 1115 Central Avenue South, Quincy, WA, 98848. Please feel free to call me at (360) 786-7808, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by to see me. I'm always glad to hear from you!
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia!