Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's now been six weeks since Gov. Jay Inslee announced his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which has since been extended twice—most recently to May 31. Throughout this crisis, I've been in communication with the governor's staff, Commerce Director Lisa Brown, Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins, and many others at the state and local level. From day one, my message has been consistent: we must prioritize public health and safety while also ensuring we don't destroy small businesses and the economic livelihoods of our citizens.
Six weeks later, we've succeeded in flattening the curve of the coronavirus, but we've also flattened our economy. According to The Seattle Times: “the total number of workers in the state who have filed for unemployment insurance since the start of the coronavirus crisis could top 800,000, which would be nearly three times the peak during the Great Recession.”
This crisis was always going to lead to job losses, but the governor's lack of urgency in developing a plan to get people back to work quickly and safely has had serious ramifications. Only recently did he come out with his four-phase plan to reopen our state. For our part, legislative Republicans began developing a plan in early April to enable the safe restart of Washington's economy and promote its continued recovery over the long term.
We released the “Safe Economic Restart Plan” on April 17.
- Republican lawmakers release plan to reopen Washington's economy amid coronavirus (The Seattle Times)
- Challenging Inslee, GOP lawmakers release plan to restart the economy (The News Tribune)
- Legislative Republicans unveil “safe economic restart plan” (The Daily World)
- Inslee facing increasing pressure to allow homebuilding and other sectors to reopen (NW News Network)
Introducing that plan is just one of the many actions we've taken during this crisis to stand up for Washingtonians. In a recent video update, I discussed what else we've been doing.
Our state is now facing a $7 billion revenue hit as a result of our economy being shut down. For years, we urged the majority party to avoid spending every dollar provided by taxpayers, warning that doing so would put our state in an impossible position to weather an economic downturn.
Unfortunately, our warnings were not heeded and spending skyrocketed.
There are rumblings that some Democrats want to raise taxes as a way to fill the $7 billion hole we're in. Of course, the majority has already increased taxes on individuals, families and businesses by nearly $10 billion over the past two years. It's hard to believe they would ask for more during this crisis. I hope that rumor turns out to be false and that we can work together on solutions that protect taxpayers and put our state in a better financial position.
Contacting me and election-year restrictions
Due to election-year restrictions that begin May 11, this will be my last email update to you until after the November election results are certified by Secretary of State Kim Wyman. The exception is if we go into a special session. However, I am still able to respond to constituents who contact me, so please keep your emails, calls and letters coming. My email address is JT.Wilcox@leg.wa.gov and my number is (360) 786-7912.
It is an honor to serve you. Please stay safe and stay strong.