Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I wanted to begin this email update by providing a brief overview of the operating budget proposals that have been introduced by the majority parties in each chamber.
The House Democrats' operating budget calls for a 34 percent increase in state spending over the next four years, as well $8 billion in tax increases. From my experience in business and in state government, I know increases like that are unsustainable. While it may be tempting to reject fiscal responsibility when revenues are up, it's still important for us to be disciplined and budget strategically.
While the House Democrats' plan invests more money into K-12 education, it leaves the state's regressive education funding system in place. I fundamentally disagree with this approach. If we do not change how we fund basic education, I have no doubt we will be back in court for McCleary 2.0.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (SMCC) has unveiled a plan that, while not perfect, would replace the state's education funding system with a flat, statewide property tax. This would result in equitable funding for students across the state, while also reducing property taxes for many taxpayers in property-poor districts like the 2nd.
Estimated impact of the SMCC's education funding plan on the average homeowner in the 2nd District, according to Senate fiscal documents. Subject to change during negotiations.
- Bethel School District: $535 property tax decrease
- Carbonado School District: $837 property tax decrease
- Eatonville School District: $369 property tax decrease
- North Thurston School District: $369 property tax decrease
- Orting School District: $423 property tax decrease
- Puyallup School District: $554 property tax decrease
- Rainier School District: $377 property tax decrease
- Tumwater School District: $365 property tax decrease
- Yelm School District: $422 property tax decrease
The SMCC's plan also invests more money into basic education, but it does so without imposing any major tax increases. The spending proposed in their plan is sustainable, and would allow the state to live within its means while still making necessary investments in education, public safety, mental health and more.
While both budget proposals will undergo major changes before a final budget is agreed upon, I believe the SMCC's proposal provides a better starting point for negotiations. These negotiations are in progress, and I'm hopeful a compromise will be reached soon.
My latest legislative video update
In my latest legislative video update, I dive more into the House Democrats' budget and talk about why their tax-and-spend approach is misguided. Take a look!
House Republicans aiming to ease the burden of ST3
In the aftermath of Sound Transit 3's passage last year, it's become clear that many voters were not fully aware of how the $54 billion measure would impact them financially. In fact, I believe many people who voted for ST3 would flip their vote to 'no' if they had to do it over again.
I've received dozens of emails from constituents upset about the increases they're seeing in their car-tab fees, sales and use taxes and property taxes. In the 2nd District, 65 percent of those in Sound Transit's taxing district voted against ST3. That's why I will continue to support all efforts to prevent residents in our district from paying for this measure.
Quite frankly, the costs of ST3 are immensely out of proportion with the benefits it would provide to our district and many others. Below are just two of the many emails I've received from constituents:
“I live on the Graham border of South Hill and the light rail will not even be close to me. This is highway robbery to tax me 300% on my tabs! Tabs cost $93, tax cost $331! Please, we have to do something about this!”
“We should opt out of paying the increased license tab fees in our county since we voted it down. If we cannot, then vote yes on the Kelley Blue book valuation and no on the MSRP valuation.”
House Republicans have been vocal and active on this issue, and are set to introduce six ST3-related amendments to the House Democrats' transportation budget proposal when it comes to the floor for a vote.
Amendment 410 would exempt Pierce County from Sound Transit 3 taxes.
Amendment 416 would allow cities and counties to opt out of all Sound Transit 3 taxes.
Amendment 420 would require Sound Transit to assess vehicles using their Kelley Blue Book value when assessing the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET).
Amendment 421 would prohibit Sound Transit from issuing any new bonds without receiving legislative approval first.
Amendment 422 would require Sound Transit to assess vehicles using their Kelley Blue Book value if using the Department of Licensing to collect the MVET.
Amendment 423 would prohibit the DOL from collecting the MVET from residents of cities or counties that choose to opt out of the MVET.
We will do everything we can here in the Legislature, but I also welcome you to reach out to Sound Transit's board members to let them know how you've been affected by ST3.
SMCC/HRC media availability
Every week, SMCC and House Republican leadership hold a 30-minute media availability. Last Monday, I joined Rep. Drew Stokesbary and Sens. Mark Schoesler and Randi Becker to discuss budget and tax issues. You can watch the media availability by clicking the image below.
Visiting with Yelm High School FFA students
Earlier this session, Yelm High School teacher Mike Mensonides reached out to tell me about a competition his Future Farmers of America (FFA) students had entered. To win the contest, groups of students needed to research an important agricultural issue and then deliver a presentation on that issue to several different audiences. Mr. Mensonides said his students wanted to deliver a presentation on the Hirst Decision to Rep. Barkis and me late last month. We gladly accepted.
It was evident his students put a lot of effort into researching a complex issue. I was impressed with their knowledge and encouraged by their desire to get our thoughts and to ask questions. I enjoyed their visit very much and wish them the best of luck in winning the contest!
Please continue contacting me with your questions and comments on the issues before us in the House, including ST3. Your feedback is important to me, and helps me to better represent you.
It's an honor to serve you.