Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Since I last wrote you, much has happened here in Olympia. As you know, the $2.7 billion budget shortfall has been the focus of this year's 60-day session.
On Feb. 17, the House voted to suspend voter-approved Initiative 960. I voted 'no' on this measure to suspend the two-thirds requirement of the Legislature or a vote of the people to increase taxes. Many people have spoken loud and clear, from Spokane to Bellingham, Yakima to Olympia, that they cannot afford more taxes. As a student of history, I have studied how our country has come out of previous economic downturns with the creation of jobs in the private sector. History also shows raising taxes only inhibits consumer spending and job growth, the two things our state's revenue is predicated on. You can read more about the debate over suspending Initiative 960 here.
Last week, the House voted on a 2010 supplemental operating budget. Several solutions were sent to budget writers on the other side of the aisle to balance the budget without raising taxes, but unfortunately they were ignored. Instead, this budget reduces spending just 1 percent from last year.
The House majority's budget addressed the shortfall by assuming:
- $857 million in new and increased taxes;
- $641 million in federal dollars;
- $653 million in state spending reductions;
- $236 million in state budget transfers; and
- $311 million from state reserves.
One member during the floor debate said we must have a balanced budget. I immediately stood up and stated we must have a sustainable budget, not just a balanced budget. This budget does not plan beyond this year. Those on both sides of the aisle recognize we will be facing another multi-billion budget shortfall in our next budget. You can read the statement I sent to the press here.
Monday night, the House approved a tax increase package. I voted 'no' on:
- increasing business and occupation taxes for professional services;
- imposing a sales tax on candy;
- imposing a sales tax on bottled water;
- increasing taxes on nonresident consumers who shop in Washington;
- increasing taxes on direct sellers like Mary Kay and Avon;
- creating a 'guilty until proven innocent' standard for business activities;
- and more.
This amounts to a nearly $700 million tax increase for the 2010-11 fiscal year alone. Read what I had to say about this tax package here.
A separate tax package passed by the Senate would even increase the sales tax and taxes on hazardous substances like gasoline and household cleaners. The Senate and House must agree on one budget and the same tax increases. Looking at the Senate tax package passed in that chamber, Washington families and employers could see the largest tax increase in state history. You can read more about the budget and tax proposals here.
We have to do something drastically different, because business as usual isn't getting the job done. It's time for reform; we owe it to the children of this state.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000