Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last Monday was Children's Day here in the House. It was a great reminder about why fighting for a better future is so important. And recently, students from Rainier High School visited the capitol (see the photo at right). If you would like to visit the capitol and meet with me, please contact my office at the information at the bottom of this e-mail.
Last week, I spent a lot of time in the House Ways and Means Committee as this week is the “fiscal cutoff” for bills to pass appropriations committees or they are likely “dead” for the year.
It's surprising to me, that even now, when the catastrophic nature of our finances is plain, there are still so many who want to expand the number of ways the state finds to spend your money. You may have heard in the past about proposals for “temporary” taxes and fees. I don't believe such a thing exists. A prime example is the expiring taxes on the Kingdome, which was transferred to Qwest Field, and on Safeco Field in King County. We heard from group after group about why these tax should be kept in place to benefit their cause. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, but too often legislators forget that it's your pie. Promises made to taxpayers and fee payers should be kept, and “temporary” fees and taxes are just another budget gimmick.
Each week I record a video that is sent to local public television stations (23 or 77 depending on your city) and posted on YouTube. I encourage you to click here to watch last week's video in which I discuss last week's budget vote and the state's growing pension shortfall.
Another thing of great concern to me is the volume of proposals we're seeing to increase a variety of fees in ways that affect every aspect of our lives. One proposal would require families to pay a $40 annual parking fee to visit a state park. While I think it's important to keep parks open during these difficult economic conditions, such a large fee makes it difficult for average families to enjoy parks at a time when it's hard to afford out-of-town vacations. Until that happens, I can't ask our citizens to pay higher fees. I have also heard that some local communities are looking into taking over caring for the parks from the state. Perhaps some fees make sense, but I believe it's vital to hold the line until government has proven it's committed to more efficiency and prioritization of all of its activities.
It's an honor to serve you. Please feel free to call, e-mail or visit anytime.