Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we approach the midway point of the 60-day legislative session next week, I wanted to share with you important things that have been happening in your citizen Legislature. You can also watch my video update from this week here or by clicking on the picture to the right.
Since World War I, Washington state has weathered ten recessions. During those tough economic times, with a limping economy, some of these small companies became enterprises of great prominence in our state: Nordstrom; JCPenney; Boeing; Alaska Airlines; Starbucks and Amazon. All of these successful companies began when times were tough.
With 300,000 Washingtonians on the sidelines of unemployment, the most important thing the Legislature can do is get people working again. Washington works best when Washington is working.
We have proposed legislation that would double the B&O tax credit for new start-up businesses. This is a time when a new culture and excitement need to be fostered to create private sector jobs. As we push through these tough times, there is no doubt in my mind the resiliency of Washingtonians will shine and the next great businesses will be found – getting Washington working again.
I am co-sponsoring legislation that would fund education first in the state budgeting process, consistent with article IX, section 1 of our state constitution. House Bill 2533 would be landmark legislation and help move the state into a priority-based budgeting process that elevates K-12 education above all other state programs and services. If K-12 education is the Legislature's highest funding priority, then tax increases are not necessary.
My Medicaid fraud bill has passed out of committee! House Bill 2571 has taken significant negotiations with the state Health Care Authority and governor's office. I was appreciative to hear one of my colleagues across the aisle say, “Representative Parker has worked very hard with the Health Care Authority and he is to be commended for his work on this – it has taken a lot of energy.” Although there is still a long hike ahead, we are on track. This is the single most meaningful Medicaid reform and fraud bill the Legislature has seen in a long time – with potential savings estimated from $20 million up to $100 million. The Medicaid fraud epidemic is fueling organized crime – from doctors to petty thieves. Hopefully this legislation passes.
As many of you know, I was the House lead for the new four-year medical school in Spokane last year, and Sen. Lisa Brown was the lead in the Senate. I was thrilled to work across the aisle and play a role in helping this bipartisan medical school become a reality for our community. Last year was step one in the process. The second part of the funding, in the Capital Budget this year, is tied to a bonding bill which, in current form, would increase the state debt – which is already nearly maxed out. It is my hope we can provide a financially-sound process to finish the medical school this year, and not rely on an increase in our state's debt.
Col. Mike Hill Visit
One of my great joys in life is having the honor to teach Leadership Principles to our airmen and women at Fairchild Air Force Base. This week, I had the deep honor and privilege of hosting Col. Mike Hill at the Capitol. Col. Hill is the 92nd Mission Support Group Commander at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane. For the past year and a half, I have been serving as an Honorary Commander for Fairchild Air Force Base in partnership with Col. Hill, and he has become a good friend. Col. Hill will be heading out to his next assignment later this year and both Spokane and I will deeply miss his leadership in our community.
It is an honor to serve as your representative. I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Spokane on Saturday, February 18. Please stay tuned to next week's Legislative Brief for details on the location and time.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000