Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Back in November, it was my honor to be re-elected by House Republicans in a leadership position as the caucus whip. In this role, I am responsible for ensuring members of the caucus are in attendance and voting when legislation makes its way to the floor of the House of Representatives. (Read more about it in my news release.)
Between those assignments, I'm staying relatively busy. I'm also enjoying meeting with local folks who come to Olympia and working on several issues for constituents in our district. You will find more information about these and other issues below. Please contact my office with any questions, comments or suggestions about legislation and state government. Thank you for the opportunity to serve and represent you!
Helping our district
Here are examples of issues I'm working on that were brought to me by our local citizens. You can go here to see a list of all of my sponsored bills.
- Reauthorizing high-tech research and development tax credit – On Jan. 1, a business and occupation (B&O) tax credit on research and development conducted by qualified high-tech firms in Washington expired. Adopted in 1994, the credit removed large tax barriers to performing new research and development activities in Washington. They have been counted on by the high-tech sector for 20 years, including SEH America in Vancouver, WaferTech in Camas. This credit has helped to provide early boosts for young, innovative companies, and high-value jobs for the state. I am working with several other lawmakers to co-sponsor legislation that would reauthorize this tax credit to retain and attract jobs to Washington state.
- Restoring funding to the Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program fund – House Bill 1080 is legislation I sponsored that would restore funding to a program that was suspended due to the downturn in the economy. The Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Fund encourages the service of primary care health professionals in areas around Washington state where there is a shortage due to geographical, economical and other reasons. This is a small bill that would have a huge impact to communities with underserved populations.
Funding children first
The dominating issue of this session will be funding education. Although the Legislature is under order of the state Supreme Court to increase education funding under the “McCleary decision,” making ample provision for education is not only our paramount duty under the state constitution, it is the right thing to do. That's why I have co-sponsored House Bill 1001 to fund children's education first through a stand-alone education budget.
While the governor is proposing $1.4 billion in tax increases to fund education, let us remember that the state will have an additional $3 billion in this coming budget cycle — an 8 percent increase over the past biennium. Most businesses in our district would be thrilled to have an 8 percent increase in their revenues. Most people I know have not received an 8 percent increase in their paychecks in the past two years. We don't need the governor's massive tax increase. We just need to fund children's education first and prioritize spending in the state budget using existing revenues. State government needs to live within its means and not seek more money from struggling working families and businesses that are operating on razor-thin margins.
Transportation: Fix it, then fund it!
Will there be a transportation package to address infrastructure needs, and if so, how would it be funded? I and many of my other Republicans would consider it, if there are meaningful reforms to the state's transportation system first. But there are still many problems within the Washington State Department of Transportation that need to be fixed to ensure your money is spent wisely. We need to streamline our state's permitting process, reform prevailing wage laws, limit bonding terms to 15 years, and the state needs to stop charging itself sales taxes on its own transportation projects. Let's fix it before we fund it! Go here to see a video on the reforms I support. You can also get more information about our solutions here.