The Current | March 27, 2015

2015 legislative session • March 27, 2015 • 75th day

The Current

Letter from Leadership 

Dear Friend: 

The House Democrats released their 2015-17 operating budget proposal today. It would increase state spending from $33.8 billion in the 2013-15 budget cycle to $38.9 billion for 2015-17. Our budget leader, Rep. Bruce Chandler, released this statement

As expected, the proposal also includes $1.5 billion in new tax increases, including:   

  • a new capital gains (income) tax;
  • repealing certain tax incentives; 
  • an increase on the B&O service tax rate; and    
  • a tax on transactions from out-of-state online retailers.

A public hearing on this legislation will take place in the House Appropriations Committee Monday at 1:30 p.m. It is then expected to be voted out of the committee Tuesday, with a full vote of the House anticipated for Thursday. 

The original plan was for the proposal to be released this morning and heard in committee this afternoon. We are pleased the decision was made to move the committee hearing to Monday and provide taxpayers more time to understand and respond to what is being proposed. 

A proposal of this size takes time to evaluate. Our members on the House Appropriations Committee will be studying it closely over the weekend, and all of our members will receive a briefing Wednesday.

Our position on the operating budget has been consistent. We believe with nearly $3 billion in additional revenue for this upcoming budget cycle, state lawmakers should balance the budget with this natural 8 percent growth in state tax collections. New tax increases should be the last resort. 

How you can join the debate 

You can influence this debate. If you would like to contact members of the House Appropriations Committee, their contact information can be found here. To find and contact your state lawmakers, please visit this website. You can also call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

Day 75

We are in the final third of the 105-day legislative session. Aside from considering hundreds of bills in the upcoming weeks, state lawmakers will need to produce operating, capital and transportation budgets. A transportation tax package and reforms are also being considered. 

We are here to answer your questions, keep you informed and be a resource for you. 

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen 
House Republican Leader
39th District

Rep. Chad Magendanz

House Democrats block $39 million in funding for at-risk students  

Republicans on the House Education Committee attempted to bring Senate Bill 5748 to a vote on Thursday, but the motion was rejected on a party-line vote in the committee. You can learn more in this news release from Rep. Chad Magendanz (pictured).  

Senate Bill 5748 would make student growth data from test scores a required part of teacher evaluations. This important change would allow our state to regain control of $39 million in federal education funding for at-risk students. The legislation passed out of the Senate on March 11. 


Tax incentives: rhetoric vs. reality   

A common refrain from many Democrats is the Legislature must close tax "loopholes." But sometimes rhetoric doesn't match reality.

Did you know 140 bills relating to tax incentives have been signed into law since 2005? Of these 140 bills, 120 were prime sponsored by Democrats. That means 86 percent of tax incentive bills in the last ten years were led by Democrats. You can find the list here.


Still more questions than answers on Democratic state auditor investigation  

We still don't have a lot of new information on the controversy surrounding Democratic State Auditor Troy Kelley. He returned to work this week but has evaded reporters.

In a somewhat impromptu news conference, the state auditor's spokesman answered questions from reporters who had staked out the entrance to the office. Nothing significant was shared. 

You can find Mr. Kelley's statement and a copy of the tax fraud investigative arm of the Department of the Treasury's request for financial information in this article. Mr. Kelley has said he is puzzled by the U.S. Attorney's interest, but this story reveals he has known of the federal inquiry for the past two years. 

One of our legislative priorities is to establish trust in state government. Stories like this one erode the public's confidence in their elected officials and state agencies. We continue to encourage Mr. Kelley to be transparent and forthcoming. The Senate has also invited him to testify before the Senate Accountability and Reform Committee.

This week


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