Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In my October 13 update, I discussed many of the issues House Republicans will be focused on during the 2022 session, which begins January 10. Not only do we need to pass emergency powers reform, but we also need to fix the disastrous police reform bills that were adopted by the majority earlier this year. I also believe the majority's new long-term care insurance program and payroll tax should be repealed. We will be leading the way on all of these efforts.
It's disappointing how many failures we're seeing right now in state government. And these failures are not just limited to the issues I mentioned above. We also have an affordable housing crisis, a homelessness crisis, a police officer recruitment and retention crisis, and several others. Meanwhile, Democrats continue raising taxes despite widespread opposition from voters whenever tax measures or advisory votes are on the ballot. They also continue passing regressive energy policies that will raise the cost of gas, heating, and goods for all Washingtonians.
For our part, House Republicans are developing solutions to make communities safer, provide meaningful tax relief, hold government accountable, and ensure parents have more of a say in their children's education. As we do every session, we'll continue inviting the majority to work with us for the benefit of all Washingtonians.
Below is a more complete overview of what our four main areas of focus will be during the 2022 session.
Destructive policies have made our communities less safe and left our law enforcement professionals without needed support. With a focus on compassion and accountability, we are working to keep our streets, neighborhoods, and families safe while respecting and supporting those who serve and protect our communities.
- Priority #1: Fix the Democrats' new police reform bills that have created confusion, hindered our law enforcement professionals, and even allowed some criminals to escape justice.
- Priority #2: Allocate state funding to recruit new police officers and retain existing officers. For the past 11 years, Washington has ranked 51st out of the 50 states and District of Columbia in terms of the number of police officers per thousand people. That needs to change.
We are advocating for meaningful tax relief and responsible policies to help alleviate financial burdens for struggling families, students, small business owners, and the most vulnerable.
- Priority #1: Repeal the Democrats' long-term care insurance program and payroll tax. Reps. Joe Schmick and Peter Abbarno have already drafted legislation to do so. As Rep. Schmick explains: “This program creates the false hope that people's long-term care needs will be satisfied, when in fact, it will be woefully inadequate for the majority of those who eventually need long-term care. People who live out of state but work in Washington, those who are within 10 years of retirement, and workers who eventually move out of state, will be forced to pay into this program, but will likely never receive a benefit.”
- Priority #2: Provide meaningful property tax relief. This effort is being led by Rep. Ed Orcutt.
- Priority #3: Expand the working families tax credit for those with children under 18 years of age. Earlier this year, Rep. Drew Stokesbary was instrumental in getting this tax credit funded for the first time in its 12-year history. We're now looking to make the credit even larger.
We will continue holding the governor and his state agencies accountable for failures, while also working to restore the public's trust by increasing oversight and implementing reforms that improve outcomes.
- Priority #1: Pass emergency powers reform. It's been 640 days since Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and began ruling the state unilaterally. On day one of session, the Legislature must restore the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.
- Priority #2: Fix our homelessness crisis by allocating resources directly to cities and counties so they can pursue the best solutions for their communities. In exchange, municipalities would agree to remove encampments near schools, parks and playgrounds, and refrain from opening supervised injection sites. In March, The Seattle Times reported: “Washington saw one of the biggest estimated increases in people experiencing homelessness in the country between 2019 and 2020, according to new national figures from an annual report to Congress. Overall homelessness across the U.S. grew by more than 2% that year, according to the report's estimates, but Washington saw an overall increase of 6.2%, or 1,346 people — the third largest increase in the number of homeless people among all 50 states.” That is a tragedy. For the sake of our communities and those experiencing homelessness, the status quo simply cannot continue.
- Priority #3: Eliminate wasteful spending by implementing a periodic review of state spending programs.
Parents matter. We want to empower them by providing transparency and the necessary financial and educational flexibility to ensure their children have the best opportunity to succeed in school and in life.
- Priority #1: Create transparency in the development of learning standards by requiring OSPI to seek public input and provide an opportunity for public comment when developing these standards and expectations.
- Priority #2: Create transparency in the classroom by requiring every school to disclose a listing of the actual instructional materials, including supplemental materials, used during the past academic year on a publicly accessible part of its website, sending that link directly to parents.
- Priority #3: Expand the number of charter schools in Washington
I encourage you to reach out to me with any comments, questions or concerns about these priorities or anything else that's on your mind. My email address is JT.Wilcox@leg.wa.gov, and my office number is (360) 786-7912.
Note: Due to legislative restrictions, I won't be able to send out another update until after the 2022 legislative session begins on Jan. 10. However, I'll still be able to respond to your emails, phone calls and letters, so please feel free to contact me anytime.
It is an honor to serve you.