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.
We’re over halfway through the Legislative session now. Bills other than those that are budget related have to have made it out of the Senate and into the House (and vice versa) by now in order to survive. But we still have to hear and vote on many House bills, and of course tackle that budget.
If you’d like a good summary of what’s going on in the Legislature now, take a listen to a brief interview I did.
One thing I want to highlight now is the Senate Majority Coalition’s higher education plan. It would reduce the cost of tuition by 3% as well as increase funding for higher education by 10%. I think this is a great example of the Majority Coalition’s commitment to its founding principles:
Improving the economic environment
Reforming and enhancing our education system
Protecting our most vulnerable while still focusing on the needs of middle-class Washingtonians
Holding state government accountable by setting priorities
We also just saw the March revenue forecast this week. It wasn’t a golden outlook, but the news was better than expected. As I was quoted on Crosscut, those who want to raise taxes really, really bad were disappointed in this budget forecast.
Stay tuned for more. The last part of session is where the budget gets hammered out. I will be working hard to make sure the end result is a budget that doesn’t include more taxes, but budgets sustainably.
On Thursday, February 28th, the Washington State Supreme Court overturned the voter-passed Initiative 1053. This initiative would have required the State Legislature to achieve a 2/3rds majority vote in order to raise taxes.
1053 isn’t the only initiative passed by voters that was designed to protect the taxpayers in this way. 1185 was passed last year and had the same goal. This initiative had received a majority of support in every county in the state and more votes than President Obama or Governor Inslee on election night. But all these initiatives are not law because of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
I am obviously disappointed with the decision. The court can rule the way the court decides to rule, but our caucus will stand with the people of this state.
Washington voters have repeatedly said that they want to see this basic taxpayer protection kept in place and they want it to be harder – not easier – for their taxes to be raised. The only option that now remains for them is to amend the state constitution and put this issue to bed once and for all.
The court may do what it wants, but we will stay the course.
OLYMPIA – The state Senate’s passing of a $475 million school-construction bill Monday includes $10 million for school-security improvements in Washington’s public schools.
The bill will also support school-security measures, including a bill to install silent panic-alarm systems in schools to improve law enforcement response time. Newly constructed schools or schools that undergo an extensive remodel would have an “optimal level of security” incorporated, including security cameras and electric door locks.
Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said bond sales of $475 million can be transferred to the state school-construction account as soon as the measure is passed by the House and signed by the governor.
“This goes to all three of our coalition’s top priorities,” Schoesler said of the measure.
Last week we began the 2013 Legislative session with many of the decades-old traditions we’ve inherited in the State Legislature, but not without making history ourselves. The session began with the coming together of something rarely seen in politics today: a coalition of Republicans and Democrats leading a legislative body–in this case, the State Senate.
It’ll be a challenging session with many tasks, but I look forward to the opportunity to serve in the capacity of Republican leader. I also have the privilege of serving on the following committees:
- Ways & Means
- Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development
If you want to get in touch with me during this session, don’t hesitate to get a hold of me by filling out my Contact form. I look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you for visiting my web site. The Ninth Legislative District is among the largest in our great state, spanning across all or part of six different counties. A couple of its many notable highlights include two exceptional public universities as well as some of the finest agricultural land the United States has to offer. The great features of our wonderful district make for a satisfying, predominantly rural lifestyle. It has been my honor to represent the Ninth District at our capitol for about 20 years.
My wife and I make our home in the town of Ritzville, the seat of Adams County, which sits about an hour’s drive west of Spokane. We have two children and two grandchildren, Kaegen (pictured above) and Macy Mae (just born this Sunday, the day before session began). I currently farm land that has been in my own family for five generations, ever since the birth of wheat farming in the 1880’s.
Making a sustainable living as a farmer requires a vast amount of knowledge concerning the many diverse aspects of agriculture as well as the capability to grapple with an array of government regulations and taxes. The extensive amount of experience and knowledge I have gained through many years of farming equips me well to address the large number of issues that face the people I represent at our Capitol.
I am firmly committed to delivering accessible and responsible representation to the Ninth District residents, ensuring the generations that follow ours—like our two children and two young grandkids—have the same, if not better opportunities to thrive. For me, this means working for fiscal stability through sustainable budgeting, strong support for both K-12 and higher education, a commitment to public safety and sensible agricultural policies.
Again, I want to thank you for visiting. If you have any questions or concerns about the issues facing our state, please feel free to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (509) 659-1774.
An evening last March in the state Senate was definitely a milestone for Mark Schoesler, and possibly a foreshadowing.
With the help of a few defecting Democrats and a parliamentary maneuver, Schoesler and fellow Republicans wrested control from majority Democrats and passed an alternative, more conservative budget plan.
The Ritzville wheat farmer, first elected to the Legislature in 1992, had spent eight years in the Senate. Five of those were as Republican floor leader, essentially the traffic cop directing his party’s response to legislation in a chamber controlled by Democrats. Suddenly, he was in charge.
“Everything had to be perfectly planned. We had to argue every bill, every motion, every order,” Schoesler recalled last week.
Next month, when a new legislative session opens, 55-year-old Schoesler will be in the majority as Senate Republican leader. His 23 fellow Republicans are the largest bloc of votes in what’s being called an unprecedented coalition majority. Joining them are two of the conservative Democrats who defected during the budget vote earlier this year, giving the coalition the needed 25 votes to control the state Senate.
State Senate’s new Majority Coalition Caucus will govern across party lines
By Rodney Tom and Mark Schoesler
Special to The Times
It’s nothing new for Democrats and Republicans in our state Legislature to work together. However, it’s another thing entirely for lawmakers to govern together — to share the responsibility and authority across party lines when it comes to acting on legislation. Yet that is exactly what a majority in our state Senate has planned when the 2013 legislative session convenes Jan. 14.
We and 23 other senators or senators-elect have signed on as members of a new, bipartisan governing group we’re calling the “Majority Coalition Caucus.” Our intent is straightforward and unprecedented: to change how the Senate works, encouraging its members to cooperate and collaborate like never before and establishing a style of lawmaking that promotes policy over politics.
The people of our state have already seen the good that can happen when legislators set aside their political affiliations and govern cooperatively. That happened late in the 2012 session, when Republican and Democratic senators formed a “philosophical majority” and accomplished what the Senate’s political majority could not. We were among the leaders of that 25-member bipartisan coalition and are still proud of the sustainable budget our efforts produced and the groundbreaking state-government reforms we tied to it. Of the 46 senators casting votes on the final budget, 44 said “yes,” possibly making it the most bipartisan budget vote in state Senate history.
Two Democrats join forces with GOP in surprise move
OLYMPIA – In a move variously described as an exciting opportunity for bipartisanship or a political coup, a pair of Democrats announced Monday they are joining forces with the Senate’s 23 Republicans and plan to run the chamber through a bipartisan coalition.
“We want this to be a cooperative arrangement, governing from the middle,” said state Sen. Rodney Tom, of Bellevue, one of two Democrats who joined Republicans.
Some remaining Democrats, however, said they were skeptical of the plan, and their members may refuse to appoint chairs or co-chairs. State Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, disputed the description of the plan as a bipartisan coalition: “A minority plus two is not really a coalition.”
The proposal is made possible by the chamber’s close partisan divide: 26 Democrats to 23 Republicans. With Tom and Sen. Tim Sheldon, of Potlach, joining a united bloc of Republicans, the coalition has the needed 25-vote majority.