The Current | April 12, 2013

The Current

Your citizen Legislature • Washington House Republicans • April 12, 2013

Rep. J.T. Wilcox

Letter from Leadership

The big news this week was the release of the House Democrats' operating budget. As expected, it assumes more than $1.3 billion in new tax increases. They target important sectors of our economy in a time of fragile recovery.  

There continues to be a lack of understanding from House Democrats and the governor of how their actions impact  our economy. We know employers lack certainty and consumers don't have  confidence. They need to know government is working for them -- not against them.

Not only have House Democrats failed to pass meaningful economic reforms, including bipartisan bills from the Senate, they now want to squeeze more money out of Main Street to grow state government. This sends the wrong message and would have real consequences.

The easy thing to do is raise taxes; the hard thing to do is to prioritize state government and tell interest groups "no."

Please remember our state will have $2 billion more in revenue this upcoming budget cycle (2013-15) than the current one (2011-13). This is more than enough money to fund state priorities.

We are seeing a partisan process in the House at a time when we need collaboration and a balanced approach. The Senate operating budget passed with strong bipartisan support. It would dedicate $1.5 billion more to K-12 education and $300 million more to higher education, balance over four years, and not raise taxes. It would also spend less and save more than the House operating budget. 

You can find a policy brief from the Washington Research Council on the Senate operating budget and governor's budget priorities here.

The week ahead will include work sessions in committees, House floor action, new tax-increase bills, and negotiations on the three state budgets. There is not a better time for you to be involved in the legislative process. 

Rep. J.T. Wilcox 
2nd District
House Floor Leader

Rep. Cathy Dahlquist

K-12 education debate continues 

Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, ranking Republican on the House Education Committee, sat down with Anita Kissée of TVW to discuss K-12 education reform and why it is important to grade our public schools. To watch the video, click here.

Rep. Hans Zeiger

Legislative perspectives

Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Ted Sturdevant of the Office of the Governor hosted a forum on April 9 entitled: "Perspectives on Washington State’s Legislative Process: Past, Present and Future."

Former Secretary of State Sam Reed moderated a panel that included Rep. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup. To watch the event on TVW, click here.    

"I’m disappointed the House Democrats’ budget plan seeks to take more money out of the pockets of families, individuals and employers around the state. Like the governor’s budget outline, their budget tells hardworking taxpayers that the two billion dollars in additional revenue the state expects to receive in the 2013-15 biennium is not enough."

— Rep. Gary Alexander, ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee. To read his statement from Wednesday, click here.

Rep. Dave Hayes

Freshman spotlight:
Rep. Dave Hayes

Serving the public is something that Rep. Dave Hayes has always believed in. Beginning with his service in the U.S. Navy in the past, to his role as sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office today, Dave believes in serving his country and communities. He now serves the people of the 10th District. Learn more about Dave here.

In the news

House Democrats release operating budget, want to raise taxes by $1.3 billion 

House Democrats have followed the governor's lead and proposed new tax increases to address the state's operating budget shortfall. The group wants to raise taxes by more than $1.3 billion by targeting the state’s beer, auto, bottled water, janitorial, trucking, insurance, high-tech research/development, architectural, prescription drug, and travel agent industries. Accountants, doctors and lawyers would also be impacted.

In a proposal unveiled at a news conference on Wednesday, House Democrats said they want to spend $34.8 billion in the 2013-15 budget cycle. The state only plans to take in $32.5 billion.

House Democrats want to deplete the voter-approved Budget Stabilization Account -- also known as the Rainy Day Fund -- which would require a 60 percent vote of the Legislature. Their plan would leave an ending fund balance of just $337 million.

As you might imagine, the House operating budget passed off the House floor with no Republican votes. Their tax-increase bills will likely run next week.

State lawmakers have 17 days to work out a final compromise. House Republicans will continue to offer solutions for our budget and economy.  

Budget/economy facts:

  • Operating budget maintenance level shortfall: $1.2 billion.  
  • Expected revenue: 
    $30.5 billion
    $32.5 billion
    $35.3 billion
  • $2 billion more revenue expected for 2013-15 budget cycle compared to 2011-13. 
  • State revenues are expected to grow 6.6 percent from 2011-13 to 2013-15 budget cycles.
  • The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council forecasts slow economic and job growth for our state.

State's retirement system scrutinized 

The Associated Press produced a three-part series on potential abuses in the state's retirement system. These stories erode the public's confidence in state government and have prompted a review by Department of Retirement Systems. To learn more, click here and on the links below.