Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Please take a moment to watch my video update (2:13) from this week by clicking here or on the picture to the right.
I'm committed to listening to what you — the residents of Spokane — have to say. In the last three weeks, I held three town hall meetings and one telephone town hall in which more than 7,300 people participated. Through these events, and with your calls, e-mails and letters, I have received great input — especially on the issues of education, taxes, fiscal responsibility, and the budget. Thank you being involved in the legislative process.
As of today, April 1, we are 82 days into the 105-day legislative session and, with an ensuing $5.1 billion budget shortfall, we have yet to see a budget proposal emerge. We have also conducted only six House floor sessions since our March 7 cutoff and have only voted on six bills. The graph below illustrates the inactivity of the Legislature these last three weeks. The majority party in the House and Senate continue to drag their feet and avoid decisions that would reform state government, put people back to work and, most importantly, balance the budget.
Majority party budget writers said yesterday they will not release their budget proposals on a Friday because they would then be scrutinized too much over the weekend. They also indicated the 52 bills needed to implement the budget will be consolidated to avoid having to debate too many amendments on separate votes. Our budget process needs more transparency and state lawmakers should have the opportunity to represent the views of their constituents.
As the Legislature falls further behind in its schedule, the risks of budget paralysis and a special session become more likely. What you might not know is each day of a special session would costs taxpayers $20,000. And that's just for the House alone. In addition to tax dollars wasted, residents of our state would face increasing uncertainty with budget reductions, layoffs, tuition increases, and other decisions that have a real impact on people's lives. The difficulty of the decisions ahead should not justify delaying them. State lawmakers were elected to do this work and should not dither over politics. The costs of indecision are simply too much for the people of Spokane to bear.
You sent me to Olympia with a clear mandate: to solve the budget crisis; enact meaningful government reform through a return to a priorities of government model; and to get Washington working again. I urge you to remind all of our elected representatives of this mandate and the other clear messages you sent last November. Let's get Washington working again.
It's an honor to serve you in the Legislature. Please call or write any time. Have a great weekend.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000