Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 Legislature has finally adjourned. Although we should have finished in April, we finally reached an agreement on the operating budget that I think will help Washington move forward. You can read more about the events that unfolded here.
Operating budget successes
In May we heard the state would be receiving $3.2 billion more in revenue this biennium, which made it clear major tax increases were unnecessary. This made the proposal for an additional $1.5 billion in taxes that would have included a capital gains tax, among others, obviously unnecessary. We passed a state operating budget last week that made a number of significant investments. Here are some of the highlights:
- Makes a historic $1.3 billion investment in K-12 education, including expansion of full-day kindergarten and reduced class sizes.
- Funds cost-of-living adjustments for teachers and public employees.
- Reduces college tuition at four-year and two-year institutions.
- Address court mandates by making significant investments in the state's mental health system.
Again, we were able to accomplish all of this and more without broad-based tax increases. The budget, Senate Bill 6052, passed the House 90-8 and the Senate 38-10 — the highest margin of support in 65 years.
The 2015-17 capital budget also passed last week with strong bipartisan support. Among projects funded in the 44th District is Cavalero Park, which received $500,000 to start construction.
12-cent gas tax hike to hit Washington residents
A 16-year, $16.8 billion transportation tax package passed the Legislature hours before legislators called it a day on July 1. This includes a 12-cent gas tax increase, the largest increase in state history. The package includes some good projects in our district but a majority of the funds are going to Seattle and fail to address major issues with our transportation system (i.e. congestion relief on 405, I-5 and Highway 9). For this reason, I voted 'no.'
I've heard from a lot of folks opposing this tax increase and, while I desperately want road improvements, I cannot justify asking taxpayers to pay significantly more at the gas pumps, additional car tab increases and license fees. Plus, with major cost overruns on Bertha and failed pontoons on the SR 520 bridge, we must demand more accountability from the state department of transportation before we hand them more money.
Just a reminder that my district office is open and my legislative assistant, Cami, is ready to assist you if you have questions or concerns. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to make an appointment or have me speak at an event. I'm here to serve you year-round.