Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we enter week 11 of this session, we continue to hear approved Senate bills in our House policy committees. Next Wednesday, April 3rd marks the final cut off when all final Senate bills must be voted out of House committees. After that, we will begin the process of reconciling the differences between similar bills emerging from both chambers.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am eager to begin the arduous process of passing our State's two year budget. For me, it's a matter of prioritizing state expenditures, and focusing on an education budget first and foremost, since that is our paramount duty! Let's give public education our first dollar, not our last.
To that end, I am not in favor of raising taxes on Washington families.
Our office Welcomed Legislative Page Brittany Curtiss
Last week, we had the privilege of sponsoring Hockinson student Brittany Curtiss as our Legislative Page. Brittany attends River Home Link in Battle Ground. She is interested in pursuing a career in nursing. We had a lot in common as we are both from very large families, Brittany with 8 brothers and sisters and me with 12 siblings. Here is a shout out to Brittany for all her great help in the Capitol last week. We are always looking for 18th District teens, age 14-16 to sponsor as Pages. If you know of a young man or woman who is interested in a great learning experience willing to spend one week in the Capitol, please contact Garrett Delano, my Legislative Assistant at (360) 786-7812 or via email at Garrett.Delano@leg.wa.gov.
Medicaid expansion and ObamaCare:
As you recall in last week's e-newsletter, I laid out specific plans in our “House Republican Fund Education First” budget. This week, I would like to focus on another important aspect of the 2013-15 budget cycle: studying the issue of implementing ObamaCare by expanding Medicaid Expansion in Washington State.
At this point, it is pretty hard to unwind ObamaCare. We needed to elect a Republican U.S. President and a Republican U.S. Senate Majority last November in order to stop this new federal entitlement program. That did not happen and now Washington State is faced with some very difficult choices. Furthermore, the other side controls the executive branch and the House in Washington State.
I will remain vigilant on this issue as we move forward and as always, I would like to hear from you about this highly controversial topic.
Today, our federal taxes have gone up and we are already funding ObamaCare whether or not our state participates in a Medicaid Expansion. Those of us who have medical insurance, will see dramatic increases in our health care premiums. Premiums will continue to rise to cover the cost of 250,000 newly eligible Medicaid patients in Washington State based on the income of citizens under 133% of the Federal Poverty Level. Make no mistake, there will be a significant cost shift from government to private payers.
Promises, promises, and more promises: all of the ObamaCare Medicaid expansions have been promised to be 100% funded by the Federal government until the year 2020. At that time, Washington State will have to cover 10% with the Feds picking up the other 90%.
What choice does a state have? Our top Republican leader on our House Appropriations Committee ran the numbers out for the next 15 years or so. Even when the Feds drop to 90% funding in 2019, it will still be a better deal for taxpayers in Washington to allow the Medicaid Expansion because the state is able to back out millions of dollars in general fund dollars in related medical programs that we currently fund to help our poorest people in the state.
In short, over the next 15-20 years, it is a real bargain for Washington taxpayers to move forward with Medicaid Expansion. The savings is in hundreds if millions of dollars over each biennium.
My biggest concern is that this system will eventually collapse because there are too many new Medicaid patients that will be dumped into the system, too few doctors willing to take on more money loosing Medicaid patients and even more important, the Federal Government with its $16 trillion of debt will default on ObamaCare promises of 100% funding through 2019.
It's important to note that additional guidance from the federal government clarifies that states can enter and leave Medicaid Expansion at any time. Another big concern is that once citizens get used to a program, it's difficult to take it away, even when state government or the federal government no longer has the ability to pay for these entitlements.
In my perfect utopian world, we have limited government; everyone has a job, everyone is responsible for their own health and health care expenses. I do not believe more government entitlement spending is the answer. At the same time, I am not interested in raising taxes in order to balance a state budget. Only for this reason, am I moderately receptive to the possibility of Medicaid Expansion in Washington State. Please send me your thoughts on this issue.
Pike district office to open in camas May 1st
I have roots that run deep in East Clark County, stemming from my four years serving on the Camas City Council and years of involvement in the business communities of both Camas and Washougal. The 98607 zip code has been the place I call home for the past 17 years. It is for this reason I have chosen beautiful downtown Camas as the location for my district office. Provided the Legislature finishes its work on time and adjourns on April 28th, my district office will open on May 1, 2013 at 415 NE Cedar Street, Suite A, Camas, WA 98607. The Camas district office will be open Monday through Thursday from 7:30am to 5:30pm. This district office will remain open until we convene the 2014 session in January.
Prior to my election to the Washington House of Representatives last November, it had been 25 years since a Camas resident had served in Washington's legislature. That was the Honorable Hal Zimmerman who served in both the House and Senate. I am proud to represent not only Camas, but all the super small cities in the 18th including Washougal, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, La Center, Yacolt and slivers of Vancouver on the west and east boundaries.
As the 2013 Legislative session end date nears, we will announce a date and time for a formal open house so we can welcome constituents from all over the 18th district. I am also planning to host a series of monthly coffee/tea talks throughout the summer and fall at this new district office, near the corner of Cedar Street and Fourth Avenue. I look forward to seeing you then.
Constituent Email of the Week
“I usually don't write legislators, but feel I needed to in this instance. I really appreciate you fighting for the citizens in regard to the Columbia River Crossing. I stopped buying the Columbian newspaper a long time ago, but read the article regarding your Town Halls last week.
I talk to many people in business and retired. I do not know anyone Clark County that wants light rail in Vancouver. My impression is this is trying to be railroaded into existence (pardon the pun). Who in their right mind would consider this boondoggle?
It will seriously hurt families, businesses, and bring crime into the area.
It doesn't make sense, It is also too costly, especially considering it is not wanted, and our voices seem to be falling on deaf ears at the CRC, which is very concerning. If there is someone that seriously thinks that the $3.4 billion price tag is final, they need a dose of reality. The answer is either a replacement bridge without light rail at a much less cost, or a third bridge (as was demonstrated on March 18th).
Being a Tea Party member I am for reigning in unnecessary spending. Debt is killing our Country. $16,700,000,000,000.00 a staggering number with no end in sight.”
— David S. (Vancouver)
Thank you to David for sending this email. It is always great to hear from constituents in the 18th District. It's an honor to serve residents in Southwest Washington. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me.
As always, it is an honor to serve as your state Representative.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"