Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I wish I did not have to deliver bad news. There is an impasse between lead budget writers in Olympia. House Democrats insist on a $39 billion, two-year operating budget that includes $1.5 billion in new taxes. Senate Republicans insist on a “no new taxes” $38 billion operating budget that some legislators believe uses unrealistic revenue projections from the sale of legal marijuana. Neither side is budging.
Our 105-day session is set to expire on April 26, but because no budget agreement will be reached by that time, leaders in the House and Senate have decided to adjourn sine die tomorrow, April 24. This means a special session is imminent! The special session will start next Wednesday, April 29. Citizens expect us to get our important budget work done on time. This must be our focus.
Gov. Inslee's demands create wider chasm in budget talks
Gov. Inslee is not helping matters by insisting to House and Senate leaders that he will only sign a final budget IF IT INCLUDES TAX INCREASES. Please remember when Mr. Inslee was campaigning to be governor, he promised that he would reject new tax increases. It did not take him long to break his campaign promise to the citizens of Washington. His job as governor is to bring both sides together to craft a bipartisan solution. He is doing just the opposite.
We don't need tax increases. The state is already bringing in a record $3 billion of additional revenue because of economic growth. That's a 9 percent increase. We need a priority-based budget that increases education funding without raising taxes!
Please read on for a Q&A about the Bi-State Bridge Coalition, my legislative pages from Clark County, and information on my new district office opening. It is an honor to serve you. Please contact my office if you have any comments or concerns regarding state government. I work for you and I never forget that!
TRUTH vs. MYTH: Q&A on Rep. Liz Pike's Bi-State Bridge Coalition
Folks are still worried about the Columbia River Crossing (CRC). I've received some comments from Clark County citizens concerned about my efforts to provide conservative leadership on much needed transportation improvements in the I-5 corridor. As a forward-thinking legislator, I want to add capacity to provide congestion relief and improve freight mobility with a project that meets the three A's: affordability, accountability and action.
So let's set the record straight and be crystal clear about my efforts. Please read my Q&A below.
Q: What is your motivation to build a bridge between Vancouver and Portland?
A: Clark County business leaders and west-side commuters who are forced to use I-5 to Portland each day to conduct business and earn a living know that just because we stopped a flawed CRC bridge project from being built doesn't mean that the transportation problems went away. I am seeking a solution.
Q: Are you trying to revive the failed Columbia River Crossing?
A: No. The CRC project is dead and will not be revived. I was on the front lines working to stop this deeply flawed light-rail project disguised as a bridge. Clark County residents made their voices heard: they are not interested in an expensive CRC-style bridge that would do very little to relieve congestion.
Q: Will you consider light rail on any new bridge?
A: No. I will not consider light rail on a new bridge because Clark County citizens have rejected light rail every time it's been on the ballot. And light rail, at a cost ranging between $200 million – $400 million per mile is a budget buster.
Q: What will happen if we do nothing?
A: Traffic between Clark County and Portland will continue to get worse if we don't act now. Business leaders and elected officials all agree it's time to let go of the rejected and failed CRC project.
Q: Do you have a project in mind?
A: I'm not an engineer or a transportation expert. But several engineers I've met with over the past year agree one concept is worth studying. It's called the I-5 Practical Design Flyover (I-5 PDF). Read more about this idea in one of my previous e-newsletters here.
Q: How can we be certain there will be accountability to prevent corruption?
A: By creating a bi-state work group made up of elected legislators, we can ensure there would be prudent oversight in the budget process, competitive bidding, public outreach and ultimately construction.
Q: What's next?
A: This summer, I am inviting citizens to join me at several open houses to discuss any affordable and viable options that come forward which relieve traffic congestion and improve freight mobility in the I-5 corridor. I am fighting for a common sense solution that honors the will of voters in Clark County.
Emily Clark and Leia Fisher, both students at River HomeLink in Battleground, served as pages from March 29 to April 3. Emily is the daughter of Kathryn Clark of Washougal. Leia is the daughter of Travis and Melia Fisher of Camas.
Isabella Fazio paged for me the week of April 6 – 10. She is a student at Central Catholic High School and the daughter of Marc and Kathy Fazio of Ridgefield.
Pages' duties vary from ceremonial tasks, such as presenting the flags, to operational chores like distributing amendments during legislative sessions. For more information about the House page program, go here.
Pike's district office re-opening in Camas; Open house on June 5
I have signed a new lease in the historic downtown Camas business district at 307 N.E. Birch Street, Suite 206. Over the next few weeks, my office staff will transition from Olympia to the district office. My district office will be staffed by Garrett Delano, my legislative assistant. Office hours are Monday through Wednesday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm. The office will be open on Friday by special appointment.
Also, I invite constituents to attend my district office open house on Friday, June 5 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Come by to say hello, and share your thoughts about any legislative matters.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"