Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to thank those of you who were able to participate in my telephone town hall last week with Rep. Jeff Holy. We had over 5,000 people participate in the event with many taking part in our gas tax survey. If you would like to weigh in on a couple of key issues, including whether or not you're willing to pay an extra 11.7 cents-per-gallon at the pump, click here to take my short survey.
House Bill 2023 passed the House 95-3. This bill gives school districts and ESDs an extra month (until June 15) to send contract nonrenewal notices to employees if the Legislature has not passed a budget by the end of the regular legislative session. In recent years, budget negotiations have gone past the allotted time for the regular session. With no funding plan, school districts have been forced to send out unnecessary “pink slips” to teachers and employees, causing understandable angst. While the Legislature should not be excused for not completing its work on time, I don't believe teachers should be dragged into this type of confusion, frustration and fear.
Also, House Bill 1559 passed the House 81-17. This is the bill that would allow WSU to have its own medical school. I gave a floor speech on this bill when it passed. To view the video, click here. To read The Spokesman-Review article, click here.
We're hearing the House Democrats may release their budget proposal sometime this week. However, we're also hearing this proposal may be more of a “wish list” for spending as it may not specifically detail how to pay for the things they want. This is not the way to lead on state budget matters. I hope the rumor is wrong and Democrat budget writers release a complete budget proposal that falls within existing revenues, or at least show which taxes they would raise, particularly since the state is getting $3 billion more this biennium over the last. We can, and should, produce budgets within existing resources.
Because of my position as assistant ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, I was asked by our leadership team to attend a media briefing that included discussion on budget issues. As I've said before, I'm thoroughly enjoying my new role in the budget process and trust my experience as a small business owner and economics professor will serve me well.
It was great to see some of you at my town hall meeting with Rep. Jeff Holy on Saturday. We had a great discussion and the participation by those in attendance was fantastic.
As a Whitworth alum, I was sad to see our very successful head basketball coach and personal friend Jim Hayford leave for Eastern Washington University a few years ago. But I'm so proud of the work he's done with the Eagles! They are to be congratulated for making it into the “Big Dance.” I know it's an experience the student-athletes will never forget. Great job, coach Hayford.
Also, it was nice to see the Gonzaga Bulldogs make it to the Sweet 16. GO ZAGS!
Thank you for reading my Legislative Brief and for staying involved in your government. It's an honor and privilege to serve you in Olympia.
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