Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Join us for a Telephone Town Hall!
My 2nd District seatmate, Rep. Graham Hunt, and I are holding a telephone town hall on Feb. 11 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. This is your opportunity to ask questions and get updates on the big issues of the 2015 legislative session. To participate, simply call (253) 561-0172. To ask a question during the call, press the star * key.
Twitter/Facebook Town Hall
You're also welcome to take part in a social media town hall on Twitter and Facebook.
My colleague Rep. Joel Kretz and I will field your questions on Feb 2, 12:15 – 12:45 p.m. You can follow the town halls on the platform of your choice at https://twitter.com/hashtag/solutionswa and www.facebook.com/wahouserepublicans. Use the hashtag #solutionswa to ask a question, and please try to keep your question to 20 characters so others can see it in our retweet.
Time really does fly — we're now in the third week of the 2015 legislative session.
The big issues we'll deal with this year include the state budget, education funding, and transportation. In this update I'll focus on the budget.
Taxpayers and a growing economy bring good news
As we prepare to write a two-year state budget, Washington taxpayers have given us good news: the state is expecting a nearly $3 billion growth in revenues since the last budget cycle. That's an increase of more than 8 percent. We have enough revenues to fund all the state's current obligations, with enough left over to make some progress on fully funding K-12 education.
Do we need $1.4 billion in new taxes?
Gov. Inslee has proposed $1.4 billion in brand-new taxes, including a carbon tax. At a recent hearing of the House Finance Committee, one of the governor's staffers said his carbon tax would result in about a 10-cent per-gallon increase in the cost of gas.
The governor's tax plan is, I believe, much too large and poses a real threat to Washington workers and their families. In addition to higher gas prices, it would result in higher utility bills for many customers, and higher food prices.
Washington is already a leader in environmental stewardship. I'm proud of that, but I believe we should weigh the costs of our policies. The governor's plan asks all of us to pay a heavy price for outcomes that will change nothing. They are purely symbolic.
I'm happy to report that the Legislature is doing good bipartisan work on a supplemental budget bill. It will deal with emergencies and high-need items from 2014, such as the devastating Eastern Washington wildfires from last summer as well as providing additional beds for mentally ill patients. The House is expected to vote on it this week.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about these topics or anything else, please don't hesitate to call, email or write my office. My contact information is at the bottom of this email.