House Democrats reject attempts to ensure two-thirds vote of House to raise taxes, Fund Education First

The Washington State House of Representatives adopted its rules for the 2013 legislative session today. House Republicans offered four amendments to the rules that would have:

  • placed supermajority vote provisions of Initiative 1185 into House rules (amendment to House Rule 10(B));
  • prioritized education funding through Fund Education First (amendment to House Rule 12);
  • allowed each state representative to have one bill that receives a House committee hearing (amendment to House Rule 24); and
  • prioritized citizen testimony in House committee hearings (amendment to House Rule 24).

House Democrats rejected the first three amendments, but incorporated the citizen-first testimony concept into final House rules. This ensures people who travel to Olympia to testify on legislation are prioritized before lobbyists and state government officials.

House Republicans were disappointed their efforts to protect taxpayers, prioritize education funding and allow communities across the state a stronger voice in the legislative process were denied. They promised to continue the fight.

Although voters passed Initiative 1185 last year with nearly 64 percent of the vote, many House Democrats have signaled they want to raise taxes this legislative session. House Republicans understand Washingtonians cannot afford to send any more money to Olympia.

“This is an idea that was supported by every county in the last election and five times in the last 20 years,” said House Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm. “Our amendment would have provided more protection for struggling families and communities. They have made hard decisions in these tough economic times, and trust their lawmakers to do the same.”

Fund Education First is a solution House Republicans have supported since 2006. It would change the state’s budget process and require the Legislature to pass a separate K-12 education budget before any other appropriations. This approach would elevate K-12 education to the highest priority and satisfy the expectations of the state constitution and Supreme Court.

“When we were sworn into office, we committed ourselves to uphold the state constitution. It tells us that education is the ‘paramount duty’ of the state. Today, this Legislature had the opportunity to commit to fulfilling this mandate but, yet again, our Fund Education First proposal was rejected,” said Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw and lead Republican on the House Education Committee. “Our Fund Education First rule change is the only way to meet the expectations of the Supreme Court and the constitution.”

Many House Republicans are also worried that issues specific to their districts are not being given enough consideration in the Legislature.

“Speaker Chopp says he wants ‘One Washington.’ One way to ensure that new solutions are being considered from all over our state is to allow every representative a public hearing on a bill of his or her choice,” said Assistant House Floor Leader Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley. “Hearings on bills give voice to the people. Allowing that voice to be heard would truly allow ‘One Washington’ to be a reality in practice in this institution.”

Each legislative district includes two state representatives and more than 137,000 people.

House Republicans said the fight for taxpayer protection and education funding has just begun. They will continue to advocate for their Fund Education First legislation, House Bill 1174, which has two Democratic co-sponsors. House Republicans have also introduced House Joint Resolution 4201 and House Joint Resolution 4206, which would amend the state constitution to require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to increase taxes.

The 2013 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 28.


Washington State House Republican Communications