Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are entering the home stretch!
The Legislature is finishing up week 13. According to the calendar, we have two weeks left before the end of session. While I remain hopeful we will finish the people's business on time, there are no guarantees we will pass a budget by April 28, 2013.
Appropriations Committee gets to work on state budget
On Wednesday, the House Appropriation Committee schedule consisted of a public hearing on the House Democrat's budget in the form of a striking amendment to the Majority Coalition's bi-partisan budget which passed overwhelmingly out of the Senate. The most significant aspect of the Senate's budget is that it contains no new tax obligations. In stark contrast, the House Democrat budget spends an additional $1.3 billion in new taxes on top of the $2 billion in new state revenues expected to come in.
The last biennium budget included 94,923 full time equivalent employees (FTEs). The proposal before us contains 95,839 FTEs. State government should be shrinking, not expanding with nearly 1,000 more workers. State government should be living within its means, not blowing past an additional $2 billion in revenue and adding $1.3 billion more in taxes.
Yes, even in these tough economic times, state revenues will go up an additional $2 billion in the next budget cycle. That means for the next two years the state will see a 6.6 percent growth in revenue. Wouldn't you be thrilled if your business profits grew by 6.6 percent? When was the last time anyone you know in the private sector received a 6.6 percent pay raise?
For four hours, we heard testimony from beneficiaries of various state programs. I kept waiting for a taxpayer, any taxpayer, to testify against the additional $1.3 billion in spending proposed by the other party.
On Thursday this week, our House Appropriations went into executive session on the proposed Democrat House Budget bill. The meeting started at 1:30 p.m. Almost immediately we adjourned into our respective caucuses to discuss possible amendments. Our job was easy. We intended to offer just one striking amendment to adopt the underlying Senate budget bill that contained no new taxes. We waited six hours for Democrats to settle on a dozen or so amendments to their own budget. We finished the day at 10:15 p.m. with their budget bill passing along a party line vote out of our committee.
More state spending is not the answer
Today, this bloated bill which raises taxes on citizens, small business and large corporations will be debated and voted on the House floor. It will pass out of the House and then negotiations between the two chambers begin. The next two weeks will be critical. It is my hope that Republicans and Democrats from both the House and the Senate will take the best of both budgets and find a solution that meets our financial obligations without raising taxes and without spending money we don't have.
This budget proposal is full of new taxes and broken promises.
I fundamentally oppose the budget offered by the other party because it relies on tax increases, broken promises and hurts our prospects for economic recovery. This is the most costly budget introduced this session, has the most government growth and is not sustainable. The proposal leaves our state vulnerable by utilizing just about all of our “rainy day funds” and leaves us with an ending fund balance that will keep the state going for just 7.5 days following the biennium budget cycle.
The most disappointing aspect of this proposed budget is that legislators who support this bill are ignoring the will of voters. Last fall, Initiative 1185 passed statewide by 64%. Almost 2 million voters told Olympia they wanted a two-thirds majority requirement in place in order for the Legislature to raise taxes.
Furthermore, the budget as proposed spends revenue that hasn't passed the House and in most cases even the originating policy committee. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I prefer the approach adopted by the Senate.
Call to action
Please contact every member of the WA House of Representatives. Tell them you do not approve of extending the Business and Occupation (B&O) surtax on businesses. Tell them you do not approve of extending the B&O surtax on insurance agents, travel agents, tour operators, stevedoring and other related services. Tell them you don't want a new tax on bottled water, higher taxes on beer and a new sales tax on janitorial services. The list goes on and on.
As long is it takes to pass this budget, I will continue to advocate on your behalf. I will fight for smaller government, less spending and greater efficiencies. Thanks for putting your trust in me. I look forward to reporting a more positive outcome in the weeks ahead.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"