The Current | April 19, 2013

The Current

Your citizen Legislature • Washington House Republicans • April 19, 2013

Rep. Joel Kretz

Letter from Leadership 

This has been a sad and emotional week for us. The Boston bombings caught everyone by surprise and were a reminder that we continue to face threats in our country. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this tragedy.

We also learned last Sunday that one of our beloved former colleagues, Tom Huff, passed away. Tom was a kind-hearted and amazing person. He served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2000, where he played an important role writing the operating budget in his first term. Most recently, Tom represented us on the Washington State Redistricting Commission. We will miss him dearly. You can find a nice story on Tom here. A celebration of his life will be held at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Gig Harbor. 

Finally, Rep. Richard DeBolt announced he would step down as House Republican Leader due to health concerns on Wednesday. He will serve out his two-year term. We will miss Richard's leadership, but fully support his health and family-first decision. You can learn more here.

We are unified and strong heading into next week. In the last nine days of the 105-day legislative session, we will be working toward final agreements on the operating, capital and transportation budgets. Be on the lookout for updates.

Most people think tax day is April 15, but tax day in the Legislature was today -- April 19. Public hearings were held on $9.8 billion in tax increases today. Please read on to learn more.

Just a reminder that you can find all editions of The Current here. Please feel free to forward them to your friends and family.

With regards,
Rep. Joel Kretz   
7th District
Acting House Republican Leader


Click on the images below to learn about the stories behind them.

Reps. DeBolt and Chopp Rep. Jeff Holy Apple Blossom Royal Court

Rep. Liz Pike

Freshman spotlight:
Rep. Liz Pike 

Rep. Liz Pike didn't waste any time accepting new legislative responsibilities. The Camas Republican was elected assistant floor leader and appointed to four House committees. To learn more about Liz, including how agriculture has played an important role in her life, click here.

Rep. David Taylor

Fighting for jobs, responsible state spending 

When the House Democrats passed their operating budget last Friday, it offered us an opportunity to provide contrast with our solutions for the economy and state government. To watch some of our House floor speeches, click here

Let's try this again: House Democrats reintroduce gas tax increase package  

House Democrats rolled out a state gas tax increase package on February 20 and didn't get the response they were hoping for. A March 1 Elway poll showed 72 percent of people opposed a higher gas tax, and 62 percent opposed an increase in the car tab.

The House Republican response was and continues to be: Fix it before you fund it. Our transportation system needs to be reformed before we provide more tax dollars for it.

House Democrats went back to the drawing board and released a new package on Tuesday. They still want to raise the state gas tax by 10 cents -- 5 cents this year and another 5 cents over three years -- and would also raise a series of fees. All totaled, their plan would generate $8.7 billion over 12 years for transportation projects, maintenance and preservation, fish passage barrier removal, and other investments. 

House Bill 1954 was heard in the House Transportation Committee today and may move out of that committee early next week.

You can weigh in on the House Democrats' package in a poll in today's Seattle Times.

The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus also has concerns with House Bill 1954 -- including the Columbia River Crossing project. On April 12, the group asked the governor to initiate an independent investigation of the controversial project based on concerns raised by two forensic accountants. Those two reports can be found here and here

House and Senate transportation budgets pass, head to negotiations

The House transportation budget passed on a 68-28 vote on Monday. The two-year spending plan would dedicate $8.4 billion to our state transportation system, with $4.9 billion for capital projects and $3.5 billion for operating programs. This is $1.4 billion less than the 2011-13 transportation budget and does not include any significant new transportation projects. 

The Senate passed its transportation budget today. To learn more, click here.

The House and Senate will now negotiate a final version. 

Transportation dollars: 
County by county  

We pay a state gas tax at the pump and other transportation-related fees. This revenue is then distributed throughout the state. Click here to see what your county receives in return for your transportation dollars. 

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Where are the revenue votes?

When House Democrats passed their operating budget last Friday, it assumed $1.3 billion in tax increases. In other words, they said they wanted to raise taxes, but didn't actually vote to do it.

House Democrats finally dropped House Bill 2038 on Wednesday -- their vehicle for $1.1 billion in tax increases. The legislation received a hearing in the House Finance Committee today. It targets several Main Street sectors of our economy and, by one estimate, could cost 9,800 private sector jobs in our state. Many of the people who would be adversely impacted by these tax increases did a great job of explaining their concerns.

You can comment on Senate Bill 2038 online here.

If House Democrats want to make tax increases a center piece of their operating budget, they need to pass the necessary legislation. This would make their operating budget more credible and provide a real starting point for negotiations with the Senate.

We continue to support a prioritized, no-new-taxes operating budget. It is time for our state to live within its means. 

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