Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We reached an important session deadline last week, House of Origin cutoff. Unless deemed necessary to implement the budget, all bills that did not advance out of the chamber in which they were introduced by 5 p.m. last Wednesday are now considered dead for the year. In my weekly recap on Friday, I discussed the nine days of floor action that led up to House of Origin cutoff, and what's next in this 105-day legislative session. Take a look:
In my update, I mentioned the latest revenue forecast would be coming out this week. Well, it was released this morning, and backs up what I've been saying since session began: There is no need for new taxes.
Compared to November's revenue forecast, the state is expected to see an additional $861 million in tax revenue coming in—$307 million for the current 2017-19 budget cycle, and $554 million for the 2019-21 budget cycle.
House Democrats are set to release their operating budget proposal early next week, and by all indications, it will call for new taxes. That simply doesn't make sense at a time when revenue collections are at an all-time high.
Passing extravagant budgets now will undoubtedly result in deep cuts when the next recession comes. Those cuts will cause a lot more pain than passing a budget that is fiscally responsible and simply spends what we already have.
One thing I've made clear this year is that while House Republicans will be on the losing end of votes, we will win the debate on the House floor. That has been proven time and time again this session, but I want to draw your attention to two bills in particular that came to the floor earlier this month.
House Bill 1110 would impose a low carbon fuel standard program less than a year after voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative to charge a fee on carbon emissions from fossil fuels. A low carbon fuel standard would raise the price of gas and the cost of goods for all Washingtonians, but would especially hurt working families in rural Washington that can't afford to take on any additional financial burdens. That was one point of many that House Republicans made when HB 1110 came to the floor. Take a look:
Another floor fight we had was over House Bill 1523, the governor's “public option” bill. HB 1523 would, by design, reduce choice for patients in the individual health insurance market. It would require the Washington Health Benefit Exchange to develop standardized plans and expressly limit choice over time in favor of one-size-fits-all plans meeting specific government requirements. House Republicans believe Washingtonians deserve better:
I'm proud of our members. They are fighting hard for you and your family, and will continue to do so until the final gavel drops this session.
Town hall meeting this Saturday in Yelm
This Saturday, Sen. Randi Becker, Rep. Andrew Barkis and I will host a town hall meeting at the Yelm Community Center (301 2nd St SE, Yelm, WA 98597) from 10 a.m. to noon. The three of us will provide our thoughts on the session, and then open it up to questions from attendees. Please join us if you can!
I welcome you to continue calling and writing with your thoughts, ideas and concerns about state government or specific legislation. My phone number is (360) 786-7912, and my email address is JT.Wilcox@leg.wa.gov.
It is an honor to serve you.