Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2014 Legislature is adjourned!
I am home on the farm in Camas today after leaving the Legislature last night when it adjourned the 2014 session just before midnight. Next week, when I have some additional time (and rest) to collect my thoughts, I'll provide an overview in this e-mail update of the highlights and disappointments of this legislative session.
Today, I would like to share with you information about the supplemental operating budget we passed yesterday. I voted for it and issued a press release last night. You can read the press release below.
Also, now that the Legislature has adjourned, I am closing my Olympia office and moving to a new district office location in Camas. We will open the office on Tuesday. I will have a new phone number to share with you next week. Here's the new district office address:
307 N.E. Birch St.
Camas, WA 98607
Serving you and the people of the 18th Legislative District is the greatest honor of my life. Thank you for the opportunity to serve and represent you!
Here's the press release I sent out last night. You may also read it online here.
Pike votes in favor of no-new-taxes supplemental operating budget
On the final day of the 60-day legislative session in Olympia, the House of Representatives approved a 2014 supplemental operating budget Thursday that puts an additional $56 million toward K-12 education. Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, voted in favor of the supplemental budget, which boosts spending by a total of $155 million for public education, higher education, early learning and for programs to help the state's most vulnerable citizens.
“This is a supplemental budget that keeps our commitment toward education – our state's paramount duty. Plus it does it within existing revenues. We were able to successfully fight off millions of dollars in proposed tax increases, which is a win for employers and families across the state,” said Pike. “I was also pleased this budget adds about nine-million dollars over the 2014 and 2015 budget years of liquor revenues for cities and counties in Washington state. Increased revenue sharing from liquor and cannabis taxes is desperately needed to help our local law enforcement agencies.”
Pike said the final supplemental operating budget agreement, Senate Bill 6002, is a true compromise between Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.
“Originally, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus passed a supplemental operating budget that would increase spending by $105 million. The Democrat-controlled House passed a budget increase of $247 million, which I voted against because it included new taxes on bottled water, recycled fuel, prescription drugs, and would have eliminated the sales tax exemption for non-residents, which would have been devastating for our local Clark County businesses,” noted Pike. “A conference committee, made up of legislators from all four caucuses, negotiated a final compromise budget agreement of $155 million without the tax increases. This shows when we collaborate and work in a bicameral way, we can get the job done for Washington's taxpayers.”
Pike was also pleased the final compromise agreement sets aside additional money for what she calls “a healthy ending-fund balance.”
“This budget provides for a 300-million dollar ending-fund balance so that our state is better prepared for unforeseen emergencies. I support this sound fiscal policy,” added Pike.
The 18th District lawmaker is disappointed the Public Works Assistance Account, which was tapped out last year by the Legislature to help balance the budget during a deficit, was not restored in the current supplemental operating budget plan.
“This is critical funding to provide low-interest loans to our cities and counties to pay for important infrastructure projects, such as water and sewer systems. Many projects have been put on hold because that fund was drained. I am disappointed it still has not been restored,” noted Pike. “However, this is only a supplemental budget and I remain optimistic the Legislature will get another opportunity next year to fund this important program to address pressing infrastructure needs. This funding will remain one of my top priorities.”
Here's the breakdown of how the state will spend the additional $155 million in the newly-approved budget:
- Public education K-12 – $64 million;
- Higher education – $35 million;
- Early learning – $20,000;
- Long-term care, mental health, developmental disabilities – $26 million; and
- All other non-education funding and other state programs – $30 million.
“The best thing about this supplemental budget is that it does not raise any taxes! This is the first time in my legislative career I felt I could vote 'yes' on a budget, because it is responsible, sustainable, and addresses our state's funding priorities,” said Pike.
Senate Bill 6002 passed the House Thursday with a vote of 85-13. It was approved by the Senate, 48-1, just hours before the Legislature adjourned the 2014 legislative session. The measure now goes to the governor for his consideration.
It is the first time since 2009 the Legislature has adjourned on time without the need for a subsequent special session.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"