Dear Friends and Neighbors,
A reminder, this Thursday, Feb. 27, Rep. Mike Steele and I will be hosting a telephone town hall. During the event, we will provide an update on the 2020 legislative session and take questions from you on the legislative session or state government-related issues. You will be able to participate from the comfort of your own home. Here are the details:
What: 12th District Telephone Town Hall
When: Thursday, Feb. 27, 6 to 7 p.m.
Dial: (509) 724-2970. Press * (star key) to ask a question.
For more information, call my Olympia office at (360) 786-7954.
I hope you can join us. There are a lot of big issues still before us in the final couple weeks of the legislative session.
On Feb. 19, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) announced a surge of $1.1 billion in unexpected new revenue during the state's quarterly revenue forecast. In total, the state now has a $2.4 billion budget surplus.
With taxpayer dollars continuing to come into the state at record levels, House Republicans believe the new revenue and budget surplus gives us an opportunity to reduce state property taxes. We had House Bill 2222, which would provide property tax relief, ready to go on the first day of session but it has not received a public hearing.
House Republicans have also recently introduced House Bill 2946 to provide $1 billion in tax relief for Washington's working families. The legislation would uphold voters' choice for $30 car tabs, while ensuring stable funding for roads and transit, eliminate the sales tax on prepared food items sold at grocery stores and eliminate the sales tax on certain personal necessities.
Revenues are more than sufficient to invest in critical government services and provide meaningful tax relief.
Proposed operating budget
House Democrats unveiled their proposed operating budget on Monday. It does not include any plans to return some of the surplus or new revenue to you, the taxpayers. It increases spending from last year's 2019-21 operating budget from $52.5 billion to approximately $53.8 billion. It would only leave $59 million in the general fund account and $2.8 billion in the Budget Stabilization Account.
Under this proposal, spending will have increased by nearly 75% since 2013 and is up 20% over the last biennium. It is not sustainable or fiscally responsible.
This is only a proposal and budget negotiations will continue to take place over the last two weeks of the session. However, the majority party has not been willing to accept our proposals of property tax relief or returning some of the tax revenue to you, the taxpayers.
Proposed transportation budget
Unlike the operating budget, the transportation budget was a bipartisan effort, . We prioritized our transportation needs and worked to make sure the projects paused by the governor were taken off of “hold.” In the budget there is minimal impact to preservation and maintenance and we worked together to address the shortfall of Initiative 976.
Please let me know if you have any questions about the budgets or any other state issues.