Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature just completed its first special session and we are now five days into the second special session. It is frustrating we are still in Olympia. However, it is important to remember why we are here.
The budget debate revolves around House Democrats and the governor wanting new revenue – new and increased taxes. Republicans believe we can make significant funding increases to K-12 education, increase teacher and state employee compensation, reduce college tuition, and maintain our social safety net within existing revenue.
Both sides have been holding their ground. However, on Monday, May 18 the Legislature received some good news from the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. Washington state is looking at an increase of $106 million for the ongoing 2013-15 budget cycle and an increase of $309 million for the upcoming 2015-17 budget cycle.
Our state will now have nearly $3.2 billion more in tax revenue -more than a 9 percent increase -for the next budget cycle. That is more than enough to pass a fiscally responsible and sustainable budget. Even the governor has backed off from his original budget and tax proposal in December. Inslee says $1.4 billion tax package no longer needed.
We do not need to raise or implement new taxes. Most families and businesses would be ecstatic with a 9 percent increase in revenue. The state should and can live within its means. We can make significant funding increases to K-12 education, increase teacher and state employee compensation, reduce college tuition, and maintain our social safety net within existing revenue.
The governor has signed my House Bill 1183 into law. This bill will set standards for radiology benefit managers as they are largely unregulated in Washington. It will provide some transparency to health plan enrollees and increases the amount of information available to patients when seeking radiological services. The bill passed with strong, bipartisan support.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the budget proposals or any other legislation we may be considering during the special session.