Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In my last email update I discussed the House Democrats operating budget proposal. Last Thursday they passed the proposed spending plan by a 51-47 party-line vote.
As you recall, their budget would spend approximately $39 billion, and it would include $1.5 billion in new taxes and tax increases this year alone. House Democrats only passed the budget part of their plan and decided not to vote on the taxes that would actually fund their huge spending proposal. Click on the taxpayer invoice below to get a better look at their tax plan.
The majority in the House wants to increase state spending from $33.8 billion to nearly $39 billion — a 15 percent increase. Remember, with the last update in our revenue projections we are looking at almost a 9 percent increase in revenue, more than $3 billion. That’s more than enough to pass a sustainable budget, invest in K-12 education, address mental health, protect our most vulnerable and keep our communities safe.
The House also passed a bipartisan capital budget last week by a vote of 96-2. I supported the measure. The capital budget differs from the operating in that it funds infrastructure for K-12 education, college and university campuses, correction facilities, and maintenance and repair for state buildings. It also focuses on stewardship projects protecting our farmlands, waterways and environment. Projects for the 17th District in the House capital budget include:
- Clark County Skills Center;
- Salvation Army Corps Community Center; and
- Community Grief Support and Recovery Center.
The capital budget is funded primarily through state-issued general obligation bonds, in addition to dedicated accounts, trust revenue, and federal funding. We are still waiting for the Senate to pass their version of the capital budget.
Rep. Lynda Wilson and I held a telephone town hall last week. I understand it was a busy night back in the district, but we want to thank all of you that were able to join us. We had more than 420 people on the line at one point. The telephone town halls are a great outreach tool to reach the entire district and gain your input and questions on the legislative session.
Here are the results of the poll questions we asked during the telephone town hall.
Question #1: Do you support a statewide increase of the minimum wage to $12 per hour?
32.5 percent – Yes
43.4 percent – No
15.7 percent – Only if it includes other policy changes such as a training wage for youth
8.4 percent – Undecided
Question #2: Do you support the governor’s carbon mandates that include a carbon tax, a carbon cap-and-trade plan, and a low-carbon fuel standard that might be imposed without approval of the Legislature, or do you think the state should promote less punitive incentives to lower carbon and other emissions?
14.3 percent – Yes, support the governor’s mandates
65.1 percent – No, I support other incentives
20.6 percent – I don’t know/Have no opinion
Question #3: Under what circumstances would you support an increase in the gas tax to fund transportation improvements?
6.3 percent – I would support a gas tax increase right now
12.5 percent – I would support a gas tax increase if it paid for local projects in the 17th District
18.8 percent – I would support a gas tax increase if it paid for local projects AND there were reforms to the transportation system
62.5 percent would not support a gas tax increase under any circumstances
The message is loud and clear from the 17th District – and not just in the polls, but from emails, phone calls and talking with people in the district. The Legislature needs to live-within-its-means. That doesn’t surprise me. The economy outside of the I-5 corridor is still slow to recover and people have no appetite for taxes. The government should be able to live with a 9 percent increase in revenue. Who wouldn’t like to see their revenue increase that much?
Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or comments on the budgets or anything else we may be debating as the end of the regular session approaches.
State Representative Paul Harris
17th Legislative District
Web site: www.representativepaulharris.com403 John L. O’Brien Building – P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7976 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000