Connecting rural and coastal communities with broadband

2018 legislative session • February 16, 2018 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:  

A busy week in the Legislature is coming to a close. We are now officially two-thirds of the way through the 2018 session. 

Wednesday marked an important deadline: house of origin cutoff. This meant hours of floor and caucus time the first three days of the week. To date this year, 317 bills have passed the House. We will be voting on Senate bills beginning next week as we work toward policy committee cutoff next Friday.

State revenue forecast

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council revealed more good news about our state's economy and tax collections on Thursday. The council said our General Fund-State revenue forecast was increased by $647 million for our current budget cycle that runs through the middle of 2019. That is welcomed news for our budget writers. You can learn more here.

While our economy continues to be strong, we know not all parts of our state are sharing in this prosperity. We cannot forget that many of our rural and coastal communities continue to struggle, and we must be mindful of this as we consider proposals in the homestretch of the session. 

Property-tax relief

State lawmakers will need to decide what, if anything, to do with this extra revenue. One thing is for sure: We do not need to raise taxes. If anything, we should explore ways to return money back to taxpayers.

House and Senate Republicans have put different solutions on the table to provide property-tax relief this year. Senate Republicans held a news conference to discuss their proposal on Wednesday.

Opinions vary on this issue and it will be interesting to see how things play out. Stay tuned!

Town hall weekend

Many state lawmakers are headed home this weekend and some will host traditional town hall meetings. You can find a list of House Republican events here.

Most of our members opt for telephone town hall meetings because they are a convenient way to reach the most constituents. We always look forward to hearing from those we represent.   

Have a nice weekend.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7967

Rep. Joyce McDonald

Leadership Podcast: Rep. Joyce McDonald

Assistant Floor Leader Joyce McDonald joined our Leadership Podcast this week to discuss her Scottish heritage, how the Legislature has changed over time, having a background in local government, our foster care system, and how people can participate in their citizen Legislature. You can listen here.  

Connecting rural and coastal communities with broadband   

Many rural and coastal areas of our state lack broadband and reliable Internet access. This table from the Federal Communications Commission’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report shows the challenges facing many of our counties.

Imagine if you lived in one of these areas and wanted to pursue online training to begin a new career. What if your child was being left behind in school because of a poor Internet connection at home. It doesn't have to be this way.

We have proposed "One Washington" solutions that would address these challenges directly. 

Rep. Mary Dye has sponsored House Bill 2664. The measure would extend existing telecommunications authorities of rural port districts to all port districts. It passed off the House floor 98-0 on Tuesday and is now being considered by the Senate. 

House Bill 2749, sponsored by Rep. Ed Orcutt, would allow a local sales and use tax as a credit against the state sales tax for rural high-speed internet infrastructure -- without increasing the total sales and use tax rate. This would provide rural counties opportunities to make important infrastructure investments. The measure passed out of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee, but is still in the House Finance Committee

Washington Equitable Broadband Act

The Washington Equitable Broadband Act, sponsored by Rep. Richard DeBolt, would expand broadband by working with the private sector to build the necessary infrastructure in unserved parts of our state. 

House Bill 2312 would allow our state to find the lowest-cost vendors through a reverse auction program. This would require a $300 million investment from our state. While that is a lot of money, it would result in increased economic activity across Washington.

The legislation passed out of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee, but is still in the House Appropriations Committee.  

Protecting education investments and reforms

The Legislature has made historic investments and reforms in K-12 education over the last five years, coinciding with the inception of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus in 2013. 

The numbers are clear. Democrats did not prioritize
education funding when they were in charge of writing budgets. They now control the Legislature again and have been advocating for "progressive tax reform," which may include a capital gains income tax.

What Democrats actually have the votes for remains to be seen. We could learn more next week when they release their supplemental operating budgets.

Sen. John Braun defends bipartisan investments, reforms

Sen John Braun joined the Overcast Podcast (The Seattle Times) to defend last year's bipartisan education investments and reforms. He was responding to a Democratic senator who criticized the new way our state funds its schools. That same senator is pushing for an energy tax that, as this Tri-City editorial points out, would hit the middle class hard.

Education spending | by the numbers   

The statistics below illustrate how our state is now prioritizing education spending. For more statistics, visit this website

  • In the 2011-13 budget cycle, the state spent $13.4 billion on K-12 education. That number will jump to $26.5 billion in the 2019-21 budget cycle. 
  • In the 2011-13 budget cycle, K-12 education spending represented 43 percent of the budget. In the 2019-21 budget cycle, this number is projected to grow to 53 percent.
  • In the 2011-12 school year, our state spent $6,639 per pupil. In the 2019-20 school year, that number is projected to be $11,996. 

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