Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Enjoying the “Calm Before the Storm”
Sine Die occurred on April 28 in Olympia. At the Capitol, the term “sine die” refers to adjournment of the Legislature. This year we have been called into special session because the Legislature did not finish some of its most important business prior to the end of the regular session. We have yet to finish a two-year operating and capital budget. It's important to note we had plenty of time to finish these tasks. In the final week before sine die, the majority party dribbled out a couple of bills to vote on each day. There were certainly enough hours in the day to get the job done, just not the will by the majority party in the House to pass a balanced budget without raising taxes.
This special session comes down to two opposite approaches for the state operating budget.
- We are projected to have $2 billion in additional revenue for the 2013-15 budget cycle than we had in our previous 2011-13 budget cycle. While our lead budget writers insist this is enough to fund our state priorities, I question the notion of spending every penny of the projected increase in revenue when the money is not yet in the bank. We should hold the line on expenses and appropriate what we spent last year?
- Why don't we insist on a zero-based budgeting system for our state agencies?
- The majority party's budget in the House spent the extra $2 billion plus an additional $900 million in new taxes. Of course I voted “NO” on this unsustainable budget plan, but it passed out of the House along party lines. Fortunately, we have the conservative majority coalition in the Senate that is holding firm on its “no-new-taxes” budget. Negotiations between the House and Senate versions are ongoing. It is my hope these negotiations will be conducted in earnest once the special session resumes on May 13th.
- As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, my budget priorities are unchanged; prioritize K-12 education, fund services for our most vulnerable citizens, fund public safety, and do not raise taxes!
Governor Inslee paved the way for this special session when he broke his 2012 campaign promise to veto any tax increase.
Had the new governor kept his no-new-taxes promise, we'd have a balanced budget and we wouldn't be having this debate in a special session. If every member of the House and Senate is called back on May 13, it will cost the taxpayers $18,000 per day for as long as it takes to reach agreement. Instead of discussing positive ways to grow our state's economy, we'll be haggling over an unsustainable budget, raising taxes and spending money we don't yet have!
When I ran for office, every candidate all over the state talked about the importance of new job creation. Part of my “new jobs strategy” included my pledge to work to reduce government spending, lower taxes and encourage regulatory reform. About a dozen of the bills I introduced this session were focused on that promise. I will not give up.
Even Governor Inslee promised to “focus like a laser beam” on job creation during his campaign. Members of the House majority party insist they “are working on issues that matter: creating good jobs and a competitive business climate.” In my world, fostering an environment where private sector jobs can flourish is the only way we can have a thriving state economy.
The Washington Policy Center (WPC) analyzed the recent tax package and its impact on employment. Economic modeling by WPC and the Beacon Hill Institute on the House Democrats' proposed $1.3 billion package of tax increases demonstrates the only “good jobs” being created are government jobs.
According to WPC, of $1.1 billion in proposed tax increases, that plan creates plenty of government jobs, but private-sector jobs don't fare nearly as well.
- 9,800 private-sector jobs would be lost in 2014
- 5,236 government-sector jobs would be created in 2014
- 4,564 net jobs would be lost in 2014
The biggest driver impacting the job loss would be the cumulative effect of the Democrats' proposed tax increases. Since this report, the proposed tax increases have been revised to $879 million, thanks to citizen testimony from concerned citizens. But the fact remains, the proposed tax increases would reduce take-home income for the citizens of Washington. The House proposal breaks the promise Democratic lawmakers made in 2010 that the temporary B&O tax increases they enacted would end on July 1, 2013. They are failing to keep this promise.
According to WPC, a net loss of nearly 4,500 jobs statewide will certainly not help our sluggish economy. The jobs that will turn our state's economy around are those created by the private sector, not government. Under this proposed tax package, nearly 10,000 Washingtonians in the private sector could lose their jobs, and thousands of job opportunities will be shifted from community-based businesses to the public sector. Unfortunately, this is the “jobs solution” offered by the majority party in the House.
As the special session gets underway next week, I will keep you informed of any progress on budget negotiations. When the time comes, I will vote “NO” on any budget that increases taxes on Washington citizens. Period.
Congratulations on a successful community event!
On Saturday April 27, more than 30 volunteers and law enforcement officers from across north Clark County convened to host the first Rx Drug Take Back at the Battle Ground Police Department. This was in partnership with the Clark County Sheriff's Office and the DEA's National Take Back Initiative. These volunteers collected more than 250 pounds of medical waste in just four hours. This event partnered with an additional collection site at Clark College managed by our local Sheriffs to collect a combined total of 1,030 pounds of medical waste. This is the largest collection event in Clark County history.
Thank you to all of the dedicated coalition members and law enforcement officers who participated in this event. I also want to send a special shout out of thanks to my dear friend Lori Homola who was an integral part of the success for this event.
It's good to be home in the 18th District
Even though I may only be back in the 18th District with my family, friends and constituents for a few weeks between sessions, I have tried to use my time wisely.
I opened up a new district office last Friday with Garrett Delano, my legislative assistant. We hosted an open house at the new office, located in downtown Camas. About 80 guests showed up including Sen. Ann Rivers, Rep. Ed Orcutt and our County Clerk Scott Weber. Several of the mayors within the 18th District also attended, including Camas Mayor Scott Higgins, Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow, Yacolt Mayor Jeff Carothers and Woodland Mayor Grover Laseke. I was honored to host dozens of members from our local city councils in Clark County as well as neighbors from all over the 18th District.
I will be hosting a series of meet and greets this summer and fall at the new district office location. Please check future newsletters for specific dates and times. Garrett will manage the office Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
So far this week, I've:
- met with about a dozen constituents
- attended a Camas City Council meeting and participated in a panel with Sen. Rivers at the Clark County Skills Center to discuss education legislation and the importance of Career and Technical Training (CTE) programs
- sat in on a Teacher Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP) training session for Evergreen School District administrators..
On Thursday, I will participate in Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey's “Winning Ways to Run For Office,” a candidate and campaign workers workshop held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the county elections office.
Since being home, I also sent a guest editorial regarding the Columbia River Crossing which appeared in the Vancouver Columbian last Sunday, May 5th. Click here to read my views.
Over the past two weeks, I have caught up on farm chores at the small acreage organic farm which my family operates in Fern Prairie. Several of our heirloom turkey hens are sitting on nests to keep their eggs warm.
Soon, the eggs will hatch into poults. Thanks to warm temperatures, the garden is planted and several fences have been mended. We are harvesting herbs and lettuce crops. There is something rewarding and serene about taking care of land, being a good steward of the environment and growing healthy food all at the same time. It's worth repeating… it's good to be home in the 18th!
I'll continue to keep you informed of special session developments as they relate to passing a final operating and capital budget. Thank you for the faith you have placed in me. I am honored to serve you everyday.
Email correspondence of the week!
“Liz, thanks for your stance on the Columbia River Crossing. My wife and I have watched the work you do in the southwest area of this state and wish the Seattle area had representatives like you. I was reading the Seattle Times regarding some of your concerns about the cost and benefits of the state construction projects, including the I-5 bridge in your area.
“I work in quality control for the Washington State Department of Transportation and therefore have seen a great deal of waste and poor quality work we get for the many millions of dollars our state spends. I know some people who work in the Vancouver/Portland area for the Washington and Oregon DOTs and many of them are very concerned about the CRC. I won't repeat some of the terms they use for what would come from two poorly managed states working with multiple other poorly managed federal and local agencies but they have been very vocal and colorful about their concerns.
“In asking why there is such a push for this bridge they suggest it is coming from politicians who want more tax dollars to spread around to buy votes and from big construction companies and labor unions wanting the contracts. Also, it seems that the DOTs in your area often remind the employees that many positions are going to be eliminated if this project doesn't happen. This happens in the Seattle area as well so I can believe it to be true. However, even with this pressure there are still many WSDOT employees who would like to see our state be more responsible with our construction spending. Anyway, once again thanks so much for your work.”
-WSDOT employee identity protected by request
For concerns or questions, please contact Garrett or myself at our district office:
415 NE Cedar Street, Suite A
Camas, WA 98607
It is an honor to serve you.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"