Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you have likely heard by now, the governor has called us into a “rolling” special session since agreements could not be reached on three separate budgets — the two-year state operating budget, a transportation budget (for roads, highways and transit), and a capital budget (for state buildings and local projects). I was optimistic we would finish our work on time, and am disappointed that did not happen. It is unfortunate that special sessions have become the norm in Olympia, with this being our 11th in the past 10 years. With that said, I truly believe the Legislature is better than it was when I was first elected. The atmosphere around the capitol is better. It's just a shame we couldn't get across the finish line and take a step towards earning the public's trust.
Because it's a “rolling” special session, only a few key budget negotiators remain in Olympia. When an agreement is reached, or when certain pieces of the budgets need to be voted on, the rest of us will be called back to Olympia to discuss, debate and vote on what's put in front of us.
The biggest item that needs to be negotiated is the two-year operating budget. House Democrats continue to insist on the need for $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes, despite the fact we have nearly $3 billion (more than an 8 percent increase) in additional revenue already coming in for the 2015-17 biennium. Senate Republicans, on the other hand, have proposed a budget that fully funds the state's obligations without raising taxes.
As a reminder, here are the major details of the two proposed operating budgets:
As I have repeatedly stated, I do not believe we need to put any additional burdens on taxpayers in order to fully fund K-12 education, provide families with tuition relief, and protect our most vulnerable populations. I have yet to hear a compelling reason for why we need to raise taxes, and will continue to oppose all efforts to do so.
The latest on House Bill 1800
In my last update, I mentioned that House Bill 1800, which I sponsored in order to get abandoned foster kids into stable, loving homes more quickly, was in the concurrence stage. This meant that the House had to agree with the minor amendments the Senate made to the bill. Once that happened, the bill would be sent to the governor for his signature.
Frustratingly, the House never got the opportunity to agree with the Senate amendments, because the majority party didn't allow a vote to take place. When the bill was first heard in both chambers, it was approved unanimously in the House and 28-20 in the Senate. That was due to 18 months of hard work to bring both sides together in a bipartisan manner. However, I suspect one of the senators opposing the bill was able to convince someone in House Democrat leadership to not allow the concurrence vote.
I have a hard time believing this is how our founding fathers intended for government to work. However, this only encourages me all the more to get this bill passed and work even harder to make our government function as it was intended to.
We have made significant progress on several issues this year. It's now time to pass the operating, capital and transportation budgets, and finish our work.
I want to hear any comments, concerns or questions you may have about the special session or anything else that's on your mind. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the phone at (360) 786-7918.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives.