Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I'm pleased that the Legislature finally adopted an operating budget that is a huge win for families, students, teachers, state employees and taxpayers across our state. While I'm not happy it took so long to come to agreement between the House and Senate, the outcome is very good. In fact, the 90-8 vote in the House is the most bipartisan budget passed since 1989!
The operating budget – a bipartisan compromise I supported
I voted “yes” on the operating budget because it:
- represents the largest investment in education in our state in 30 years – accounting for 48% of the budget;
- provides a modest COLA to hardworking teachers and state employees who have gone without state raises for years;
- does not include any capital gains income tax, carbon tax, bottled water tax or other large tax increases despite some advocating for a large tax increase;
- cuts tuition for thousands of students in community and state colleges across the state thanks to Senate Republicans, after years of higher education tuition increases due to a failure of past leadership;
- provides overdue investments for mental health programs to get people the help they need and address public safety concerns.
The Legislature had about $3.2 billion more for this 2015-17 budget than it did for the previous budget. We made what I believe are wise decisions, balancing responsibilities and obligations. It's not a perfect budget (who doesn't wish they could spend more in certain areas of their own household budget?), but nearly everyone wins in some way. This budget is a great foundation to build upon and show our dedication to education and the most vulnerable populations in our state.
Capital budget provides investments in our communities
The capital budget is considered the “bricks and mortar” budget, funded from cash accounts and bonding for long-term infrastructure projects. I'm pleased that our 26th District will see one of the highest investments from the capital budget. I supported this budget, which will provide:
- $46 million for a College Instruction Center at Olympic College
- $662,000 for Ancich Netshed restoration in Gig Harbor
- $500,000 for the Dekalb Street Pier in Port Orchard
- $100,000 for Admiral Theater renovation in Bremerton
- $50,000 for the Key Pen Civics Center to fix their HVAC system
You can view the full list here. Under “Group By,” select “Legislative District.” Then under “List,” select “26th Legislative District.” Click View Report, then click on the -/+ next to “26th Legislative District,” and the list of all the projects funded in the capital budget for our area will be displayed.
In total, about $93 million will be invested in a variety of community and infrastructure projects across our district. This funding will make a difference for generations to come.
Voting “no” on the gas tax increase
During late night floor debate on June 30, the House passed a gas tax increase that, if signed by the governor, will increase your gas tax by almost 12 cents at the pump. While I appreciate the Senate's effort to include some reforms and projects for our district, I voted against this proposal for several reasons, which you can read more about here. I also believe you should have had a say in this massive tax increase, and supported an amendment to the proposal that would have sent it to the ballot for a referendum. I'm disappointed the amendment failed and supporters of the gas tax proposal in the House didn't think voters should have the final say.
Work yet to be done
You may have heard our work is still not done. There are still a couple bills in the House and Senate that are necessary to implement the various budgets. I'm just as frustrated as you are – after working until 4 a.m. last Wednesday, it was clear we would not be able to complete our work. You can read a story explaining what happened in The News Tribune here, and a pretty strongly-worded editorial in The Seattle Times here. I'm ready to work as long as it takes to finish the job you sent me to do in Olympia.
Please don't hesitate to contact my office anytime. My new legislative assistant, Tori, can help you, or set up a time for us to chat directly. It's an honor to serve you.