Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am happy to report I am headed home to Spokane after voting on the 2013-15 operating budget before July 1 and avoiding a state government shutdown. While I am happy the legislature was able to complete its business before July 1, I wish it did not take two special sessions to complete the work.
I want to tell you that this is one of the most difficult votes I've ever had to take in my time in the legislature. Sometimes in politics we come across legislation that challenges our assumptions and prevailing thoughts. While I voted against the budget, I acknowledge there are many good things in this budget, including investing over $1 billion in K-12 education, not increasing higher education at our state's public colleges and universities, and leaves $620.3 million in total reserves for 2013-15 and $1.3 billion for 2015-17.
I always try and make thoughtful decision for what is best for the people of the 6th District. Ultimately I was concerned that the negatives would outweigh the positives in the long run, which include:
- Even with another $2 billion in increased revenue for the next biennium, this budget included two taxes (Bracken and Telecomm) and over $500 million in fund transfers and revenue redirections.
- Sweeping of the Public Works Assistance Account of $277 million plus $77 million redirection of future revenues.
- Spending 9% more than the previous biennium.
The unique situation of a coalition government in charge of the Senate set up an interesting dynamic in budget negotiations this year. For the first time in recent memory, House Republicans were at the negotiating table throughout the process. While it took too long to get here, I am happy that the final budget earned bipartisan support.
I wanted to close my email this week by telling you what an honor it is to serve you in Olympia. On the long drive over I often think about the thousands of 6th District residents I have had the pleasure of meeting and helping as your state representative. I truly believe I represent the best district in the state, and want you to know how humbled I am that you chose me to speak for you.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000