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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It has been an interesting week in the Legislature. The majority party in the House finally released their operating budget proposal on Monday. We offered our own proposal, sponsored by Rep. Gary Alexander, the House Republican lead on the budget. While not perfect, it did offer a better, truly sustainable option.

We debated the budget on the House floor Saturday. I voted against the House Democrats’ proposed spending plan because it is unsustainable and lacks reforms. You can find out more about the differences of our plan compared to the majority’s proposal by clicking here.

The Democrat budget cuts education too deep and uses a budget “gimmick” by pushing $253 million in K-12 education apportionments into the next biennium. I also have public safety issues concerns with their budget. It has early release for criminals, while the Republican budget actually includes $10 million more for increased security at state correctional facilities. They cut some important programs for our developmentally disabled communities as well.

Many changes will be made in the last two weeks of session as the House and Senate work toward a final compromise proposal. I hope we can see more fiscal responsibility and budget sustainability as the final decisions are made. This will be a benefit to all.

This week, we had many protestors at the Capitol. The crowds, including about 7,000 on Friday, expressed concerns over budget cuts, but they also continued the mantra “close tax loopholes.” I have discussed this issue in previous e-mail updates. These are actually “job creating tax incentives” and were adopted to create and retain jobs and bring economic investment. These incentives have already gone through the rigorous legislative process to become law. It is also important to remember some of these so-called tax loopholes, are on food and prescription medications. The protestors and others rallying against these incentives fail to point out that eliminating the sales tax on food would result in a $1.7 billion tax increase on working families. Senate Bill 5857 would do just that.

We should not raise taxes when it is still very evident our problem is spending. If you recall, our projected revenue forecast is $780 million less than budget writers expected. However, our state tax collections are up over $3.8 billion over the last biennium, or nearly 14 percent. Even with the high increase in tax growth, our spending is still outpacing our economy by more than $5 billion.

We do not need to be raising taxes or “closing loopholes” as they call them. If we prioritize our budget appropriately, we can get back on track to a sustainable, fiscally responsible budget.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia.

Sincerely,


Paul Harris

State Representative Paul Harris, 17th Legislative District
RepresentativePaulHarris.com
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
paul.harris@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7976 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000