Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After a regular session, two 30-day special sessions, and part of a third special session, the Legislature is going home for the year.
With the end of the fiscal year looming, the Legislature finally passed an operating budget on June 29. I supported the spending plan as it is a historic budget on many levels. The budget:
- Invests about $1.3 billion in K-12 basic education, the state's largest education budget in history;
- reduces class size in grades K-3;
- provides a cost-of-living raise for teachers;
- reduces the cost of tuition at the state's four-year colleges and universities and two-year community colleges, a huge win for students and middle-class families;
- makes significant investments in treatment and capacity for our mentally ill and preserves our health and human service safety net;
- Increases funding for state parks; and
- accomplishes these things with NO major taxes increases – capital gains, carbon, cap-and-trade and most B&O tax proposals were taken off the table.
The tuition reduction itself is historic and we could be setting a precedent across the nation.
Largest gas tax in state history passes
While I was pleased with many pieces of the operating budget, I was disappointed in the transportation gas tax package that passed the Legislature. I voted “no” as this transportation package picks winners and losers and the 17th District loses with this plan. Of the $16 billion proposed in this transportation package, only about $25 million would go to the 17th District. A $16 billion plan — and it does nothing to address the transportation needs in our region. When Washington taxpayers pull up to the gas pump, will be paying more than 67 cents in taxes for every gallon of gas they pump, almost the highest in the nation. A number of fees are also increased as part of this plan.
Stay in touch
It is good to be back in district! If you need to discuss legislative issues or state government please do not hesitate to contact me. I am also available to speak or attend events. I look forward to seeing you around the 17th District.