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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Like many of you, as world events continue to unfold, my thoughts are with the Ukrainian people. That's why I strongly supported House Resolution 4660, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Chambers, R-Puyallup, which recognizes the contributions of Ukrainians to Washington state.
Additionally, a bill introduced by House Republicans would require all state agencies in Washington state to cancel their outstanding contracts with Russian companies and the State Investment Board to divest from pension and other investments. As it states in House Bill 2135:
“Russia has engaged in an unjustified and unprovoked invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine, in violation of international law. Washington stands firmly in support of Ukraine's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity and strongly condemns Russia's military actions against Ukraine.”
Read more about House Bill 2135 by clicking here.
Supplemental Operating Budget
As a reminder, the state operates on a biennial budget adopted in odd-numbered years. During even-numbered years, like 2022, supplemental budgets make minor funding changes based on emerging issues and agency requests. However, this year's budget does quite a few things, but it's hardly “supplemental.” In fact, it's the biggest budget in state history.
With only a few days left in the 2022 legislative session, the House passed their 2021-2022 supplemental operating budget on Saturday, Feb. 26. The massive $65 billion spending plan was approved on a party-line vote, with all Republicans voting “no.”
As you can see from the chart below, in the past ten years, state spending has more than doubled — increasing by over $34 billion. This kind of big spending is not sustainable. It dangerously gambles that tax revenue will remain high in future years.
With a $15 billion budget surplus, why not offer some tax relief?
This budget's size was not the only reason I voted no on the spending plan. Despite a record budget surplus of more than $15 billion, the proposal offers no meaningful tax relief to working Washingtonians. Instead, the plan calls for an additional $6.2 billion in new spending to the two-year budget passed by lawmakers last April.
This is the worst kind of missed opportunity! Although I was pleased an amendment to bring more broadband access to rural areas was adopted, other amendments that would give struggling individuals and families real tax relief all failed.
It's my hope that House and Senate budget negotiators find a way to give some of the state's $15 billion surplus back to taxpayers. At a time of record-high tax collections, record inflation, and record property taxes, it's difficult to justify the state's hoarding of this excess revenue.
House Republicans | SAFE Washington budget plan
To counter the recently approved operating budget, House Republicans introduced the Safety, Affordability, Families, and the Economy (SAFE) plan that seeks to reduce the state sales tax, lower the B&O tax for manufacturing and trucking, and expand an existing tax preference for food processors — all aimed at lowering costs for Washingtonians. The proposal, which puts real solutions on the table, was rejected by the majority party.
Transportation package trades one bad idea for another
The statewide transportation funding package passed from the House Tuesday night no longer contains a six-cent-per-gallon tax on exported fuel. However, the amended plan trades one bad idea for another.
The 16-year, $16.8 billion Move Ahead Washington transportation package stirred up quite a bit of controversy when Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska threatened to retaliate against Washington state if they were forced to pay the export tax under the proposed plan.
The majority party responded by passing an amendment that removes that tax proposal. However, the amendment makes up for that loss by transferring funds from the state's Public Works Assistance Account, something that could be catastrophic for local governments.
The revolving Public Works account provides low- and no-interest loans to cities and counties to pay for infrastructure vital to public health and safety. It helps fund local projects such as water, sewer, and broadband, so communities can build housing and create economic opportunities.
Unfortunately, the amendment sweeps one-and-a-half billion dollars from the account, which will clean it out and deny our cities and counties the ability to have this funding source for vital infrastructure. Taking this money away from communities across the state will have a big impact in the years to come.
Real solutions to this funding package were offered, but never received serious consideration. Instead, the majority party offered free bus rides and set plans in place so that Washingtonians will no longer be able to buy, sell or register any vehicle with an internal combustible engine after 2030. This is a bad bill and I voted against it.
Even though the 2022 session will soon end, it's never too late to contact me with your input, questions, and concerns. I'm always happy to hear from you.
It's an honor to represent the great people of the 13th District in Olympia.
470 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7808 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000