Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is the first day of the second special session, and I'm disappointed to be delivering that news. Throughout the first special session, Gary Alexander and I represented House Republicans in budget negotiations with the House, Senate and governor's office. When we started, all budget negotiators agreed to work in good faith, not negotiate in the media, and not jeopardize negotiations by sharing details with others until an agreement had been reached. Unfortunately, the governor's inflammatory statements yesterday means this is no longer happening.
House Democrats released a new budget and tax proposal last week. I was happy to see them drop the initial tax proposal to make permanent the temporary B&O tax increase on main street people. This happened because House Republicans released a detailed list of all the people affected by this tax increase. After initially proposing a $1.3 billion tax increase, they had farther to come in compromising. Their latest tax proposal would increase taxes by $595 million.
I'm happy House Democrats realized how much their first proposals would have hurt our economy, and scaled them back. However, the fact remains that our state is expected to bring in $2 billion more without tax increases in this next budget – more than enough to cover the court-mandated increase in education funding and population growth. The latest House Democrat budget did reduce spending, but unfortunately all of it was in education funding.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus doesn't have a perfect budget yet – however, it places a higher priority on education spending than the House Democrats and is more responsible with taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. This is important, because the people, especially in our Second District, spoke clearly in the last election that they wanted a high bar for tax increases. I've always said I'm not here to protect every tax incentive – but I'm only willing to look at tax increases when it protects the average taxpayer and their jobs. Your family and your jobs are the most important thing.
I've been sadly disappointed the governor has not been more effective in negotiations and has so strongly taken the side of the House in raising so many taxes, especially after his repeated promises on the campaign trail to not support tax increases. Early last week, the governor introduced D.C. tactics as he threatened a government shutdown. Despite the rhetoric you may hear in the media, this does not have to come to a government shutdown! Olympia is not Washington, D.C. – we have found agreement in the face of bitter disagreement in the past, and we will come to a compromise again.
I am in favor of the Senate budget at this point, because it includes about $505 million more in education funding than the House Democrats' proposal, and does not hold our classrooms hostage to a tax increase. It is important to note that we can pass a sustainable budget that increases our obligation to education funding, protects the most vulnerable, and does not increase taxes on working people in our state. My seatmate, Rep. Gary Alexander, has continued providing solutions that will bring both sides together. I'm proud that he continues working, without getting the credit, to find a compromise everyone can agree on.
Please feel free to contact my office anytime – I'm here to serve you and your family, and I haven't forgotten it.