Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last time I wrote you, I promised more detailed comments about the governor's budget proposal. Clearly, this is meant to be just a starting point in a long legislative process to adopt a new two-year budget. Incoming Governor Inslee will need to present his own budget, and since he has repeatedly promised no new taxes, I expect that his budget will reflect that promise.
Governor Gregoire proposed increasing wholesale fuel excise tax in order to fund education to levels required by the McCleary court decision. Because it is a percentage based on a wildly fluctuating fuel price, this is an unreliable funding source. In addition, drivers could see even higher prices at the gas pump. This would be an unfair burden on our rural and suburban district where nearly all workers have long commutes and, as a result, greater costs for the crippled economy outside of Seattle.
- The budget proposal ignored the will of the people and opted to proposed a $125 million increase in soda, candy and gum taxes – the very same taxes repealed by voters in 2010.
- There are actually two budgets proposed – one without new taxes, and one with new taxes. The first budget proposed to balance within current revenues by cutting deeply into levy equalization for most schools by $100 million. It would also completely eliminate or suspend services for the most vulnerable. This is the same old trick of cutting the most important budget items first in order to induce voters to approve new taxes. What many don't realize is that we are expecting to bring in $2 billion more in revenue than the last two-year budget cycle!
- The governor proposed to suspend cost sharing with local governments, putting further burdens on cities and counties who have drastically reduced their budgets and faced economic realities unlike the Legislature.
You can also read what I told the Nisqually Valley News about the budget. As I said, this is just the start of budget discussions. Incoming Governor-Elect Inslee will also propose his own budget, as will the Senate majority coalition, the House Democrats and my caucus, House Republicans.
How Congress' budget will affect Washingtonian's budgets
I have received many questions about how the outcome of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations and ultimate compromise in Washington, D.C. will affect our Washington. I'm very concerned about the extra taxes hardworking employers and individuals will have to pay. Because payroll taxes are going up by 2 percent on nearly everyone who works, almost all of us will be sending more of our dollars to the IRS. It is clear to me that our top priority here in Olympia needs to be increasing government efficiency so that we can deliver what people need from government without taking more from them. I truly believe we can fully fund education without raising taxes, and still protect the most vulnerable. My new seatmate (thanks to redistricting), Rep. Gary Alexander, is a strong leader on the budget in Olympia. He has great ideas, as do many other Republicans in our caucus, and I will be sharing those with you as session moves forward.
I always value direct contact with you – please don't hesitate to e-mail, call, or come visit me in Olympia. It's an honor to serve you.