Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This time of year makes me reflect on how grateful I am to have a home, a family, food on the table and clothes on my back. Recently I helped put together “flee” packs for victims of domestic violence in Pierce County. It was so meaningful to be part of something that helps people who are in a very scary place in their lives.
Many in our community are hurting right now, but I'm encouraged by those who come together to help, including:
- Yelm Community Services
- Harvest Community Thrift Store in Yelm
- Thurston County Food Bank
- Eatonville Family Agency
- Orting Food Bank
Today the governor released her budget proposal – you can view it here. My initial thoughts are that I'm concerned about a $3 billion increase in spending. In addition, it contains funding for schools based on an increase in the fuel excise tax that is the most unstable funding source. I'll share a more in-depth analysis in my next e-mail.
You may have heard I was chosen by my colleagues to serve as House Republican Floor Leader. It's an honor to have a leadership role amongst my Republican colleagues, but I promise, I will remember who I represent – the people of the 2nd District. As floor leader, part of my job is to help coordinate the message of House Republicans and the solutions we bring to the table with our colleagues across the aisle. We just updated our Web site as an improved tool to communicate with the public and demonstrate the values we represent.
Last month, the Legislature held committee meetings in preparation of the 2013 session, scheduled to begin January 14. From those meetings I can tell you the Legislature will be tackling:
- the budget, which is again facing about a $1 billion shortfall;
- implementation of federal health care reform; and
- how to fund education as required by the Supreme Court ruling in McCleary vs. State.
The greatest discussion around the budget will be various tax increases to pay for education. First of all, the voters statewide, and especially in the 2nd District, made it clear they want a high bar for increasing taxes. Second, I believe we can take the politics out of the classroom, by funding education first in our state budget, to ensure students receive our first dollar and not our last dime.
Recently I was appointed to two committees for the 2013 session: Appropriations (distributes funds) and Finance (deals with taxes and fees to raise funds). The Finance Committee may offer some opportunities to look at tax exemptions; I will carefully analyze the exemptions for myself to determine if they are helping working people and our state's economy. There are some tax exemptions that will be “sunsetting,” or set to expire. I will fight for the ones that directly affect the well-being of the people of the 2nd District.
I am also keeping a close watch on the “fiscal cliff” in Congress, as the outcome may have a critical impact on all the people of the state.
I would love to hear from you and what you think about the above issues as I prepare for the 2013 session. It's an honor to serve you.