Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week we passed another policy cutoff deadline. Unless considered necessary to implement the budget (NTIB), policy bills must be approved by House and Senate committees, or they will be considered “dead” for the session. Fiscal bills have a few more days for deliberation: cutoff is on Tuesday, April 4.
With less than four weeks before the end of the 2023 session, the state’s three main budgets, operating transportation, and capital are at the top of the legislative agenda. All three of the House-sponsored budget proposals have been rolled out. This update takes a quick look, with links to more information, for each of those proposals.
First, the operating budget: Written by the majority party, this proposal continues a trend of historic increases in state government spending. In fact, over the last 10 years, we’ve more than doubled the operating budget, taking it from $33 billion to $69.5 billion.
- Why this budget proposal is concerning: The Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council recently released its quarterly revenue projection. Despite high yields even during the pandemic, our state’s economic cycle has shifted. The council estimates a decrease of $483 million for the 2023-25 budget cycle; and about $541 million less for 2025-27.
- This is an important signal that the state’s economy is cooling. To mitigate this downward trend, we need to stop out-of-control state government spending and place an adequate percentage of tax revenue in reserve.
Want to learn more? Click here to review PSHB 1140, the House operating budget proposal.
The House-proposed transportation budget pays for transportation activities, such as designing and maintaining roads and public transit. The 2023-25 House proposal is $13.2 billion.
Now some good news: The proposed spending plan contains some important projects for the 13th District. The $13.2 billion proposed transportation spending plan includes:
- I-82, Union Gap Economic Development improvements;
- I-90/Snoqualmie Pass East, Hyak to Keechelus Dam Corridor improvements;
- I-90, Canyon Road Interchange, ramp terminal improvements; and
- I-90 Snoqualmie Pass, widen to Easton.
Here’s the bad news: This budget also contains hundreds of millions of your hard-earned tax dollars to cover mistakes and delays.
Want to learn more? Click here to review PSHB 1125, the House transportation proposal.
The most bipartisan of all the budgets, the House-proposed capital budget makes several meaningful allocations, including $400 million for the Housing Trust Fund and $893 million for behavioral health. The $8.34 billion spending plan also contains several construction and infrastructure projects for our region.
Here are some 13th District projects in the proposal:
- Central Washington University’s Behavioral and Mental Health Building: $45 million;
- Central Washington University’s Multicultural Center: $6 million;
- Royal City Soccer Field: $350,000;
- Moses Lake Readiness Center (military): $5.5 million;
- FISH Food Bank Expansion: $573,000;
- PNWU Dental School: $5.94 million;
- Samaritan Hospital, Moses Lake: $8.4 million;
- Easton School District: $20,000;
- Thorp School District: $28,000;
- Springwood Ranch in Kittitas County: $14 million; and
- Yakama Nation “Creator Law” sculpture: $99,000.
Click here for a complete list of 13th District projects in the House-proposed capital budget.
In its recent ruling on the capital gains income tax, the Washington State Supreme Court broke with nearly a century of legal precedent by upholding the state’s capital gains income tax. In the 7-2 decision, the court asserted the capital gains tax is an excise tax, not a property tax, which the state constitution limits to 1% annually.
- The 7% capital gains tax, approved by the majority party as a new tax in 2021, will impact the sale of stocks, bonds, and other high-end assets of more than $250,000.
Here’s the problem: The court’s dubious and likely unconstitutional decision not only lets the capital gain tax stand but it could (and most likely will) open the door to future state income taxes. That possibility will cost the average taxpayer, people like you and me, not just those in higher income brackets.
The police pursuit reform bill was recently approved by the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee by a vote of 7-2.
- Background: Since the majority party changed police pursuit in 2021, there has been a significant hike in auto thefts and people fleeing from the police. The new law increased the standard for engaging in vehicular pursuits from reasonable suspicion to probable cause. For example, simply seeing someone drive a stolen car does not meet the standard. The suspect can simply speed away.
- Changes in the law not only put our communities, families and neighborhoods in danger, it likely caused the death of 12-year-old Immaculee Goldade, killed in a hit-and-run crash by a man who had stolen a flatbed pickup truck. Her best friend was with her at the time and was injured in the crash.
Although a watered-down version of what was originally proposed, ESSB 5352 would loosen restrictions on law enforcement to engage in vehicular criminal pursuits. If approved, law enforcement could engage in vehicular pursuit, with reasonable suspicion, for violent offenses, sex offenses, domestic violence, vehicle assault, escape, or driving under the influence.
- What’s next for this bill? The measure now moves to the Rules Committee where it awaits scheduling by the majority party for debate and decision on the House floor.
I’d like to see the bill amended to its original form and intent. The original House Bill 1363 would have allowed pursuits for any crimes, assuming an officer had reasonable suspicion.
ESSB 5352 is a small step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough. We must give officers the tools they need to protect our communities!
British Columbia Premier David Eby visited Olympia this month. He came with a coalition of Canadian leaders looking to strengthen ties with our state. As a member of the Economic Development and International Relations Committee, I was happy to be a part of advancing our relationship with these important economic partners.
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Please contact me if you have questions about the legislative process or other state government-related issues.
It’s an honor to serve you!