As we enter the holiday season I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends and enjoying the beauty of Eastern Washington in the winter. I am thankful for so many things, but I am particularly grateful to live in such an outstanding community. As Washingtonians, we have much for which to be thankful—thriving economies in agriculture, technology and aerospace are just some examples.
Senate Majority Coalition Adds One More
And now I’m also thankful to add a conservative voice and further solidify the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus with the election of Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) in the 26th District! I of course was a big supporter of Angel’s race against Democrat incumbent Nathan Schlicher (Gig Harbor), who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Derek Kilmer, and I am excited by her election. I look forward to continued bipartisan collaboration on important upcoming issues in the 2014 Legislative Session.
Governor Jay Inslee called the Legislature together for another Special Session in early November. We addressed extending preferential tax rates for the aerospace industry—a leading economic driver with a huge statewide ripple effect. The Legislature passed two bills that extended economic incentives to encourage Boeing to build its next generation airliner, the 777X, in Washington State. The tax breaks, set to expire in 2024, will now be extended until 2040.
Keeping Washington competitive for the aerospace industry is critical to our economic health. Boeing and the related industry it requires generates 11 percent of Washington’s gross domestic product, billions of dollars of tax revenue and thousands of family-wage jobs. If Boeing departs for sunnier economic skies it would have huge economic consequences for our State.
Maintaining a competitive environment for Boeing in Washington, however, was contingent on the machinists and aerospace workers accepting its labor contract, which they voted down. Boeing is now being courted by a healthy handful of other states to build the 777X in their states.
I’m still hoping a deal can be struck with labor, but the Legislature has done its part to protect Washington from a devastating economic blow should Boeing pick up and build elsewhere. We also passed legislation that would create the skilled workforce necessary for Washington to be competitive and create a vibrant economic future.
Easing the Gridlock…
The Senate Transportation Committee has been meeting to address funding for critical transportation issues around the state, including the North Spokane Corridor—considered a statewide priority and certainly one for me in the 9th District.
A recent editorial in the Spokesman Review highlights the Senate’s ideas. We in the Majority Coalition Caucus will be prepared to quickly resolve this issue in the next Legislative session, whether next year or even in a special session this year. If we can compromise to accomplish much-needed reforms in transportation funding that would fully fund transportation projects critical to our state’s economic future, we can make steps to provide a bright and mobile future for generations to come.
Thankful for You
Lastly, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful to be able to serve the 9th District. I hope you can take the time to slow down, enjoy your family and friends, and remember your blessings. No matter our circumstances, I believe we are blessed. We live in a free, great country and a vibrant, diverse state wherein opportunity is ripe.
Also—I will be watching Friday’s Apple Cup with excitement. The fun rivalry is one of my favorite games of the year. Go Cougs!
Saying Goodbye to a National Leader
This past week, family, friends and colleagues from both state and U.S. politics celebrated the life of Former House Speaker Tom Foley, who recently passed away at age 84 of complications surrounding a stroke.
As a young man growing up in Speaker Foley’s district, I remember visiting the Congressman and was impacted deeply by the kindness, respect and professionalism he and his staff showed during my visit. He will be deeply missed and, while I didn’t always agree with his politics, I respected his leadership.
Let’s End Gridlock—in Olympia and on Washington’s Highways
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has wrapped up a series of feedback forums to listen and assess the transportation priorities of concerned citizens around the state. The common thread we’ve heard is that people do not want increased prices at the pump to pay for transportation projects that should instead be funded by smarter allocation of our state’s current resources.
The Majority Coalition Caucus stands by its “fix it before fund it” platform when it comes to transportation. Here are just a few examples of how we can accomplish this:
- We should allocate $400 million dollars of funds for transportation that are currently being deposited into the state’s general fund and spent on non-transportation purposes. The funds originated from the sales tax paid by the state on materials used in road projects. Let’s keep funds where they belong.
- Currently, we spend about $40 million annually to handle and treat stormwater runoff from state roadways. Why not use available money already set aside for addressing polluted water? These substantial resources have been funded by a hazardous-substance tax approved by voters nearly 25 years ago.
- A simple streamlining of the environmental permitting process will reduce costs and timelines significantly—without reducing environmental impacts. A prime example is the I-5 Skagit River Ridge replacement, which was up and running in just one month. Why not apply the same process to future transportation projects?
I articulated these solutions in more detail in a recent article published in the Spokesman Review.
Members of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus have had their ears to the ground and have responded with a list of viable options to address our state’s critical transportation issues without reaching deeper into citizens’ pockets. A full list of transportation reform ideas can be found at www.transpowashington.com.
California Billionaire Backs Schlicher in 26th District
As the November 5 election ends just next week, I want to call your attention again to the critical legislative battle in the 26th District. The race pits House Representative Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) against Democrat Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor). Schlicher was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Derek Kilmer, who was elected to Congress in 2012.
Although Representative Angel won the primary election decidedly, she’s facing a tough battle in what is now the single-most costly legislative race in Washington State, thanks in large part to California billionaire Tom Steyer.
Steyer, who made his money as an oil profiteer and Wall Street speculator, has made a name for himself in a couple key Democratic elections and ballot initiatives around the country. He’s already spent a whopping $455,000 for Schlicher and dumped an additional $3 million into a political action committee. The money came in four days after the Public Disclosure Commission’s (PDC) deadline for big campaign contributions—rendering it inapplicable to Schlicher’s campaign.
Time will tell what Steyer’s interest is in Washington State and how all of his unprecedented donations, overshadowing any interest group in the state, will be spent. That’s the kind of threatening politics that could quickly change the political tenor in Olympia—and not for the better.
Education & Industry Honors
Lastly, Washington State University’s Associated Student Body recently honored me with the Champion of Higher Education Award. I firmly believe higher education is a critical component of Washington’s successful future and I am humbled to receive this honor.
I was also recently honored by the Washington Auctioneer’s Association as Legislator of the Year, for my work to keep sales at farm auctions from being taxed. Particularly critical to the 9th District, our agricultural community has struggled enough in our challenging economy—we do not need to increase their tax burden!
I consider it a high priority to help protect and safeguard Washington’s vital higher education system and agricultural community.
As always, I am ready to hear from you. Let me know how I can best serve you.
Earlier this month, Senator Mark Schoesler and Senator Rodney Tom were both given awards as Legislators of the Year by the Association of Washington Business.
The awards honor the historic bipartisan work by both Senators during 2013 Legislative Session by holding the line against more taxes and regulations. The Senators received the awards from Governor Jay Inslee, seen on the left in the picture above. Doug Bayne, chairman of the AWB, is on the right.
Join the Fight Against Gridlock
Gridlock—it happens on the road and it happens in government.
Effective transportation is critical to both citizens’ quality of life and our statewide economic health. But transportation reform has not budged much of late. Today I want to talk a little about my goals for improving transportation, and I hope you will take the time to share your views as well.
Why Transportation Reform?
In recent months I’ve been working closely with my colleagues in our bipartisan Senate Majority Coalition Caucus as well as with concerned citizens around the state to come up with sound solutions to get Washington moving more efficiently. It’s important because Washington’s economy depends on efficient and quick business freight mobility and improved commutes for our workforce.
Even though you might say that traffic congestion on our side of the state isn’t as glaring a problem as it is elsewhere, it is certainly crucial to our local economy for people and goods to be able to move quickly and safely.
Reforming Transportation: Where to Start
But our transportation problems are complex and extend beyond decaying infrastructure: citizens like you and me are tired of seeing our money wasted on poor project planning and political gridlock.
Before we get to planning more projects and potentially adding more funding for transportation we must make sure taxpayer dollars are being used wisely.
There have been several recent examples of projects that have unnecessarily been over-budget or delayed. The State Route 520 bridge replacement project is both behind schedule and over-budget because of design flaws. Seattle’s tunnel boring project has been delayed weeks because of a labor dispute over dirt removal. And the already expensive Columbia River Crossing project has failed in part because planners did not listen to local concerns about including costly light rail that resulted in a bridge design too low to accommodate some Washington shipping businesses.
The Democrats’ solution to our transportation challenges is to raise more revenue now by increasing taxes (a 10.5 cent increase to the gas tax has been on the table and also supported by Governor Inslee).
Yet Washingtonians have made it clear that they do not want more and higher taxes. Their resounding voice at the polls— nearly 64 percent supported a two-thirds Legislative majority to raise taxes in November—indicated that government needs more oversight when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars. I agree.
Your Views on Transportation Reform
To help us understand better the transportation priorities of people around the state, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus is continuing to hold a statewide transportation listening tour to find out what’s truly important to citizens when it comes to transportation infrastructure.
The tour, led by Senate Transportation Committee Co-Chair Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima), is open to the public and designed to gather input so that we can come up with smart solutions supported by both lawmakers and taxpayers.
There have already been several stops in this tour already. The next one near the 9th District will be in Spokane:
October 2 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Greater Spokane, Inc.
801 W. Riverside, Spokane
I encourage you to join us—your input is invaluable.
We don’t need a quick fix—we need long-term solutions that will accommodate population and economic growth long into the future.
So, my colleagues and I in the Majority Coalition Caucus stand by our pledge to “fix it before fund it.” We must reform how government manages these projects and prove to taxpayers that they are worthy of their investment.
As always, thank you for your support as I continue the honor of representing the 9th District in Olympia. I hope to see and hear from you soon.
It has been a quiet summer since the Legislature adjourned after passing a sustainable, bipartisan budget and protecting the State from a government shutdown. And last year at this time, online and broadcast media—even your mailboxes—were full of political ads and information as our state and nation geared up for a particularly fierce campaign season.
While I’m sure this summer’s political calm is welcome around here, I do think it’s important to call attention to a fall special election on the other side of the state that is critical to the successful future of our State.
The 26th Legislative District State Senate special election pits Republican State Representative Jan Angel against Democrat Nathan Schlicher (who was appointed to the Senate Seat last year) in a tough battle. This legislative race is not just a fight for a Puget Sound area State Senate seat; it’s a battle for Washington’s future.
Despite Rep. Angel’s (R-Gig Harbor) strong victory in the August 6 primary election (54 to 45 percent), we should consider this race far from won.
Democrat, Republican and other groups are pouring money into this hotly-contested race, and it’s widely considered to be the most important one on the ballot in Washington. Jan’s victory would give the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus a two-vote majority, further securing the opportunity to continue government reforms that prioritize jobs, education and Washington’s fragile economy.
We need Jan Angel to strengthen our majority and help us continue the good work we started this year.
A Proven Record, Years of Experience
Rep. Angel has served in the Legislature since 2009 and has a proven record of supporting legislation that encourages sustainable economic growth.
A successful business owner with years of experience, Rep. Angel is strongly endorsed by the business community statewide. She also understands that education is one of government’s primary objectives and a critical factor to building a healthy, productive workforce. Prior to her tenure in the State House, Rep. Angel was an active leader in local government since 2000. All this paired with her practical business experience and years of civic engagement make her a great common sense, pro-business addition to the State Senate.
Rep. Angel’s victory in the 26th District would shore up the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, enabling it to continue to support legislation that cultivates a friendly business environment—not one that is hindered by expensive and counter-productive government taxes and regulations.
Remember—nearly 64% of Washington State citizens voted in 2012 to limit the Legislature’s ability to raise taxes. Voters have been clear that we must reform government before asking for more money from taxpayers and businesses. Rep. Angel’s victory will help us follow through on our promise to represent the people.
Want to help?
I urge you to support my friend and colleague, Rep. Jan Angel, for the 26th District State Senate seat. As the race nears the November election, both campaigns are increasing their efforts and both sides of the aisle know what’s at stake. Even if you live outside Rep. Angel’s district, please consider supporting this important campaign—its outcome will surely affect Washington’s progress.
Find out how you can help Jan on her website, www.janangel.com.
Let’s keep our great State moving forward.
I’m excited today to talk about the news from the Legislature that we passed a budget and finished our second special session. After months of legislative work, an agreement was reached between the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) and Democrat leadership.
This was great news, as many government agencies were set to shut down in only a matter of hours if the agreement hadn’t been made when it was. In the end, the crisis was avoided and some significant budget reforms were made. Today I want to highlight just a couple:
Majority Coalition Caucus Prevents Major Tax Increases
The final bipartisan budget included no general fund tax increases. The proposals to extend some taxes set to expire and add other taxes were not part of the budget. Instead, we used additional money that came in unexpectedly from existing taxes coupled with spending cuts to balance the budget and live within our means. This was a huge victory for the Senate MCC as this was one of our primary goals.
Education is Made a Priority
The $33.6 billion operating budget put $1.6 billion in additional money into K-12 education in this 2013-2015 budget. Higher education also saw a large enough funding increase to allow for a total tuition freeze. It was exciting to see how, just after the budget passed, WSU announced it would rescind it’s planned 2% tuition increase for this coming academic year.
Although politicians always talk about putting education first, this year we showed Washington that this dream can be a reality. More will need to be done in the future to give educators more and better tools, but this budget’s reforms are a significant first step.
Bipartisanship is Still Alive in Washington
Lastly, I wanted to mention that I am very optimistic about our state’s future. What we know now that we didn’t know for sure several months ago when the MCC was formed is that a promise of cooperation for clear, shared goals can work. I am thankful for the hard work of MCC Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Medina), whose efforts held our coalition together, and for the Senate Democratic Caucus budget leader, Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam).
This budget does what our bipartisan coalition envisioned: it’s sustainable, puts education first and avoids the huge tax hikes that were proposed by others even at the risk of harming our slowly recovering state economy. It took a little longer than I would have liked to get there, but I think the final result was a good deal for the people of Washington.
Is the government likely to shut down? How close is the Legislature to a final budget agreement?
Listen in to Senator Mark Schoesler’s recent radio interview on the David Boze Morning Show on AM 770 KTTH to get some answers! Click the play button below to hear them discuss the state budget negotiations and other current issues in the Legislature.
Governor Inslee called the Legislature into a second special session starting last Wednesday after the House and Senate could not come to an agreement on an operating budget by the end of the first 30-day special session. Using polarizing rhetoric, Governor Inslee blamed the stalemate on what he described as the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus’s unwillingness to compromise.
Unfortunately, “compromise” for the Governor and House Democrats seems to mean business-as-usual Olympia politics: new revenue (i.e. taxes), not government reform, such as what I and the Senate Majority Coalition have been pushing for before we consider any new revenue.
The Governor has claimed the Senate Majority Coalition’s “ideological bandwagon” is the culprit of the budget problem. But I think listening and responding to voters and taxpayers of this state is not as ideological as it is responsible.
Voters Are Not Eager to Embrace New Taxes
Over 60 percent of voters made it clear last November that they want it to be more difficult for the Legislature to raise taxes. This might be why there was no hint of new taxes on Governor Inslee’s lips last year when he was stumping for votes, but now that approach is a thing of the past.
In a recent press conference, I and other leaders of the MCC reiterated what we’ve been saying all along—business as usual won’t work. The budget practices that got us into this mess aren’t going to get us out.
So what are some new ideas that Olympia hasn’t been trying?
We need to prioritize and reform our education system so we can graduate our youth at a higher rate than 77 percent. We need a friendlier business environment for our critical job creators. We need to lower labor costs and expensive regulations and keep businesses from leaving our state.
These key issues will undoubtedly grow revenues in our state far more sustainably than reaching deeper into taxpayers’ pockets.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has been clear about its goals from the beginning—jobs, education and the budget. We presented our budget long before the other chamber in the hopes that we wouldn’t be in this time crunch and could finish the 105-day regular session with a sound and sustainable budget.
I am willing to work with my colleagues in the other chamber to come up with a solution that will move our state forward. But I am not willing to forsake the reforms our state critically needs to function and progress successfully into the future.
You Keep Us Accountable
Friends, I encourage you to make your voice heard loud in Olympia. I am holding my ground, but it’s critical that representatives hear from voters. As I said in the press conference I mentioned—you keep us accountable. So please don’t hesitate to contact me.
You can reach me using the form on my Contact page.
I’m hopeful I’ll have some positive news of a budget agreement to report in my next update.
The Legislature is now into its third week of the 30-day special session. Budget writers and party leadership are still trying to work out a budget deal.
Although there’s not much to report yet, I will be sure to post an update here when an agreement is reached. In the meantime, I’m working hard alongside my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that the final budget is sustainable, balanced, prioritizes education and doesn’t increase taxes.
To recap where we are, there’s a big divide between the House and Senate budget proposals. The Senate’s budget balances in four years, funds education first, protects vulnerable groups and does not increase taxes on Washingtonians or on business while the House budget relies mainly on $900 million dollars of tax increases. Both budgets passed out of their respective chambers but didn’t make it any further.
I believe that shaking up business as usual in Olympia is long overdue—the status quo hasn’t been working. The solution to our state’s economic woes is not to increase revenue by reaching deeper into taxpayers’ pockets. Rather, encouraging an economic climate where the private sector can thrive will increase the tax revenue.
Washingtonians have repeated the same plea over and over—they won’t stand for more and higher taxes. In fact, Portland-based polling firm Moore Information recently conducted a comprehensive survey of Washington residents. The survey concluded that 89 percent of voters favor cutting government waste and 71 percent thought that now is not the right time to raise taxes. Furthermore, when the Legislature’s current debate was outlined, a majority of voters sided with the Senate’s budget proposal.
Small Step Forward for Wolf v. Livestock Issue
In other news, the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission just passed an emergency rule to allow property owners to shoot a gray wolf that is in the act of killing a pet or livestock in areas where the gray wolf is not listed as endangered or threatened under the federal endangered species act. I sponsored legislation this year that, if passed, would have made this temporary rule law.
I commend the Fish & Wildlife Commission for taking this important first step at protecting property owners and their livelihoods. Although the rule is temporary, it could become permanent in the future.
As always, I welcome your feedback. I am humbled to represent you and value engagement from my constituents.
Sen. Mark Schoesler
The Legislature was unable to come to an agreement on the state’s operating budget due to significant differences between the House and Senate on how to fund the budget. The 105-day regular session ended on April 28 with Governor Inslee calling a 30-day special session scheduled to begin May 13. In the meantime, legislators and budget writers from both chambers have been considering objections from the other chamber and preparing to hit the ground running when special session begins.
Just days before the end of the regular session, the House passed its $900 million revenue package that consists primarily of tax increases and continuing expiring taxes on business. The Senate’s plan, however, funds education first, protects our State’s most vulnerable and balances the budget without increasing taxes on Washington citizens and businesses.
As the Senate Republican Leader and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, my focus prior to and in the special session is figuring out how we can come together and work with the House to produce a well-written, balanced budget without increasing the burden on taxpayers. For an in-depth budget conversation, watch a recent interview I and Senate Majority Coalition Leader Rodney Tom had with Inside Olympia’s Austin Jenkins.
Voters have made it clear time and time again that they do not want more taxes. It’s critical that we represent the people and restore public trust in government.
Our goals have been the same from the beginning—jobs education and the budget. I strongly believe we must focus on reforms before revenue. In a recent article on the announcement of special session, I said I would stand with the Governor—the one who promised no new taxes during his campaign. That continues to be my conviction.
I will keep you informed over the next few weeks as more develops in Olympia.
All my best,
This month the Senate passed a bipartisan $33.3 billion operating budget that prioritizes education and protects Washington’s most vulnerable citizens—all without increasing taxes. The vote was 30 to 18. 7 of the Yes votes were from the minority caucus.
Keeping Faith With the Voters
The two-year operating budget includes $1.5 billion more for K-12 education and yet still closes the current budget gap with spending cuts and by employing lean management techniques that improve government efficiencies. The Senate’s budget proposal is balanced without tax increases or closing tax breaks on struggling businesses. It also encourages good faith in the government as it allows temporary tax increases from 2010 to expire on schedule on July 1st as promised.
Reducing Higher Education Costs
The budget also supports the “10-3-50” plan for higher education that I sponsored. The plan decreases tuition at state colleges and universities by 3 percent, adds 10 percent more funding to those institutions and also allocates a performance-based aid incentive.
A Bipartisan Budget
Senator Jim Hargrove (D-Hoqiuam), member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said the budget was created in “probably the most open and inclusive way that I think has ever built a budget.” He should know–Sen. Hargrove’s 28 years of service make him the longest-serving lawmaker in Olympia.
Although final budget negotiations between the Senate, House and Governor are far from over, the Senate’s budget takes Washington in the right direction. Under this plan, the budget would be balanced in a sustainable fashion and fosters a government that lives within its means.
House & Governor Budgets: a Sharp Contrast to the Senate’s
Unfortunately, the House Democrats’ budget and the governor’s budget priorities both raise taxes and extend those that the Legislature previously promised to sunset this year. The House budget has a total of $1.3 billion in new taxes. There also is evidence that the tax increases would eliminate 9,800 private sector jobs. The Senate’s budget spends $1.1 billion less than Governor Inslee’s $34.4 billion plan.
The new taxes target key job creators and industries such as agriculture and computer technology. Gov. Inslee’s plan would increase the B&O tax by about 25 percent on nearly all major industries and employers statewide. With our state’s economy still struggling, businesses, especially small businesses, cannot afford any increases in taxes or costly regulations.
A Time for New Solutions
That’s why I’m a firm believer in our Senate budget. It’s high time Legislators come up with solutions that fund education first and also create an environment in which business can thrive, which will inevitably result in more jobs and increased revenues for our state.
For a brief summary of my perspective on Gov. Inslee’s budget plan, click here to listen to a short interview.
The conversations are intensifying here in Olympia. Time and time again, the people of the 9th District have made their priorities clear—jobs, the economy and education. I’m pleased to see some real progress in the Senate to tackle those priorities and I’ll do my best to see it through.