I am excited to be working with Mary Dye in Olympia. Mary’s diverse community service background and her experience in agriculture have prepared her for her current role as a legislator. I look forward to serving with Mary for years to come.
The Columbian, a newspaper serving the Vancouver area wrote a great piece the other day. Click on the title to read the entire article.
With the early release of the state revenue forecast, one would think the rosy outlook of an additional $400 million in money coming in – Democrats would drop the issue of raising taxes. That assumption would be wrong. Instead, Democrat House members choose to be publicly skeptical about the measurement mechanisms the revenue forecast uses. Governor Inslee isn’t free of blame either, demanding to keep pushing all the taxes, and spreading the myth that there are no COLA’s, which further stalls the negotiation process – something else the governor denies.
Conveniently, Democrats have never displayed skepticism of the outlook when the forecast was dim. When revenues were expected to fall short, Democrats jump at the chance to argue for a tax increase. It seems that raising taxes has become the moral good, not what you actually spend the money on. It also makes it even more clear that the House Democrat budget is uncalled for, and Governor Inslee’s positions all the more destructive.
$400 million in excess revenue is a lot of money, more than enough to sustain a reasonable budget. This really should break every barrier in passing a budget, and bar the excuses, but Democrats and Governor Inslee have lost their narrative that they absolutely need to raise taxes. This comes to show that their demands of tax increases really comes down to paying union contracts and the WEA super-COLA.
Not more than a week ago we had a chance to adjourn the session on time with a good budget for Washingtonians. Unfortunately, House Democrats have continued to push for the largest tax increase in state history without the votes to pass it. Now they are forcing the legislature into overtime. The special session will begin on Wednesday, April 29th. Republicans pushed to start the session right away so we can get down to business immediately but Democrats want a few days to strategize and raise money.
I’m opposed to wasting your money by discussing public policy that we could have addressed in the regular session. Instead, my primary focus during this special session is going to be getting a good budget as soon as possible that helps Washington families. The only reason we’re going into special session is to complete this budget. School districts face a May 15th budget deadline. It’s important to reach agreement on the budget so our schools can have the resources they need to educate our kids. If Democratic decide to continue delay tactics past June 30th, they will shut down the state government. This course of action will force massive furloughs, risk state credit, and put our most vulnerable citizens at risk. That is simply unacceptable.
We don’t need big tax increases to invest in our communities. The Senate Republican budget takes $3 billion in new revenue we already have and puts it to good use. Our budget funds education at the largest percentage since John Spellman was Governor 30 years ago. Our budget supports higher education, cutting college tuition costs by 25%. Democrats have suggested they may shutdown the government if they don’t get their way. We cannot allow them to hold Washington families hostage. I’m committed to defending working families and putting dollars in our classroom. These are real solutions to the real problems you elected me to solve. I’m committed to fight for you in the legislature.
When Senate Republicans pushed out Senate Bill 5987, they ensured every region of the state got a piece of the action. Whether you live in the Puget Sound or North Spokane, there is something in it for you. However, there is one caveat; the bill would also minimize the threat of Governor Inslee passing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) by executive order – at least not without significant hardships on pedestrian, public transit (especially Sound Transit’s taxing ability), and bike paths. These are not things we wish to see sacrificed from the package, but they are issues that squarely fall in the Governor’s wheelhouse. Republicans want a safeguard to maintain the current bipartisan efforts going on in both the Senate and House chambers, without the damage a cap and trade tax would inflict on the process.
Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen has already begun his attempt at breaking these new found bonds by declaring the new 2/3 majority initiative (passed by voters by almost 2/3’s) as unconstitutional, which he announced during the transportation package that wouldn’t have even been affected by the rule. All that we (the Senate majority) are asking for is something to show for the money we will be collecting from taxpayers.
One other thing this bill does is add accountability and efficiency. Did you know that we charge a sales tax on construction projects in this state? The sales tax raised currently goes into the general fund. Why not re-infuse that money back into the transportation budget?
Everything in this package has been intentionally clear, whether our fellow Democrat counterparts feel inclined to support it has yet to be known. This was actually the very first transportation package I’ve supported enough to vote for over my entire tenure in the Senate, and I hope Democrats are willing to meet me half way.
The Seattle Times took the time to verify my observation that it isn’t just factories, refineries, and other forms of industry that will be impacted by Governor Jay Inslee’s cap and trade plan. Such ‘carbon emitters’ would also include both Washington State University and the University of Washington. Some Democrats think that because these universities are included in the list, it shows good faith that there is no double-standard occurring just because a polluter is public versus private, but Governor Inslee himself stated the universities would likely receive extra funding in order to comply with the $2 Million in added yearly penalties. How would this incentivize these institutions to reduce their emissions even if it were a concern?
To read the article- Click Here
I was recently interviewed by the Pacific Northwest United Christian Church’s online publication – The Fig Tree. The article shares my family’s deep roots in the church and in my hometown of Ritzville.
Read the full article here
What an exciting couple months! I am proud to have been selected to serve as the new senate majority leader. I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for their vote of confidence and am eager to continue working on solutions for the people of Washington. In case you missed it, here are a few stories about my election to senate leadership –
Seattle Times by Joseph O’Sullivan
The Olympian by Jordan Schrader
KHQ by staff
The Spokesman-Review by Jim Camden
Herald Net by Jerry Cornfield
Daily Journal by The Associated Press
Seattlepi by staff
Washingtonians sent a clear message to Olympia in the 2014 midterm elections—their votes aren’t for sale and neither is the Washington State Senate. Despite the best efforts of environmentalists and the Democrats to take back control of the State Senate, Republicans saw one of the most significant electoral victories in decades.
Republicans swept three key Senate seats to gain the first outright majority in the State Senate in 10 years. If that wasn’t enough, Republicans picked up more seats in the House, reducing the Democrat majority.
The election was a vote for candidates who represent the people of Washington and an outright rejection of the costly climate change agendas of Governor Inslee and Tom Steyer, a California billionaire who has dumped $2 million in Washington State to elect Democrats in the last two years.
Steyer is a radical environmentalist and liberal who made his fortune in hedge funds. The California billionaire is not from Washington and seems to have no personal connections here, yet he has invested a fortune trying to change control of the state Senate with no success. In the end, Tom Steyer’s biggest “investment” in creating jobs in Washington was opening a post office box so that he could send mail pieces attacking actual pro-jobs candidates. That is all he can show for his $2 million investment.
Had he been successful, Steyer’s efforts to help Democrats regain a supermajority would only serve his and Governor Inslee’s own radical environmental agendas and drastically increase the cost of energy for working families and the small businesses that drive our economy.
The projected costs of increased gas and electricity prices and onerous regulations would have hindered economic growth and hit working families where it hurts the most—their wallets. What’s more, because of our abundant hydroelectric power, Washington has already made remarkable progress for clean energy and an improved climate—much of which has been driven by the market and private industry. We don’t need the heavy hand of the government to micromanage industry that is working well on its own.
I believe the election was also a message to Washington lawmakers to focus on critical priorities in the 2015 Legislative Session—the economy, education and maintaining a balanced state budget.
In the days following the election, Governor Inslee has been pounding the same drum, standing strong by his commitment to major climate change legislation. The beat, however, has been muffled by the deafening voice of the voters.
Governor Inslee’s climate change discussions surround cap-and-trade and a carbon tax on emissions. His Climate Change Advisory Committee will deliver its findings toward the end of November—just in time to advise the Governor’s proposal for the 2015 Legislature.
Time will tell, but one thing is certain—the 2015 Legislature will be driven by policy and legislation that represents the voters. Our chief concerns in the Senate will be jobs, education and budgets, consistent with the momentum the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has built over the last two years.
Thanks for your support,
Humbled by Education Honor
There are few things more important to the future of our great state than education. It’s essential that we create opportunities for Washington’s youth to maximize their potential and, consequently, build a brighter economic future for our communities.
As Senate Republican Leader, I’ve worked hard alongside other members of the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) to maintain affordability in our state colleges and universities. Recently, I was humbled to receive the Legislator of the Year award from the Associated Students of Washington State University. I spoke at a recent meeting about my work in higher education, and the MCC’s success freezing tuition for the last two years after nearly 30 years of dramatic annual tuition increases. Reforms in government spending will ensure that we can stop or slow these past increases and invest properly in our state’s higher education.
Green Promises Loom
Apparently, Governor Inslee’s new number one issue is climate change and green energy. Although he campaigned on promises of improving education and the economy, his energy is most certainly centered on the environment. Like I’ve said before, finding common sense, market-based solutions to protecting our environment is important. There are, however, critical issues our state and nation is facing from spending reform to the economy to education.
I’ve written recently about Governor Inslee’s sweeping increases to our state’s water quality standards, and now he’s also proposing a carbon emissions tax. Both will increase regulations and taxes and will hit small business and the middle class the hardest.
His agenda fits in perfectly with that of California billionaire and green activist, Tom Steyer, who is putting big money in Washington State to try and regain Democratic control of the State Senate. Steyer is investing in numerous states where his money has a chance to influence state politics to fulfill his climate change agenda. If the Democrats regain control of the Senate, it would make it very easy for the Governor to achieve his costly, green goals.
Steyer is investing at least $1.25 million into Washington state elections. Much of Steyer’s money was given to the Washington branch of his NextGen Climate Action Committee, and he donated another $50,000 to the Kennedy Fund, a political action committee that supports Democrats in the State Senate.
This is a huge boost for local Democratic campaigns. But while it furthers Steyer’s and Governor Inslee’s political interests, it will certainly increase the bottom lines for working Washington families. Governor Inslee’s solutions to environmental challenges lack scientific evidence and market-sound common sense.
Governor Inslee’s proposed carbon tax will increase the price of gas, diesel, natural gas and electricity. And, historically, gas prices have a sweeping effect on the economy and on the taxpayers’ pocketbooks.
Although a detailed proposal hasn’t been submitted to the Legislature yet, the Governor’s Climate Change task force is hard at work. In the meantime, Washington State Economists researched the effects of a carbon tax at the level that would reach Governor Inslee’s climate change goals. The results were astounding–the hypothetical tax would increase gas prices by nearly 60 percent and natural gas prices by 35 percent.
Friends, I consistently hear from constituents who are struggling daily to meet the rising costs of government regulation and increased taxes on the state and federal level. As lawmakers, we need to prioritize better, spend smarter, and steward taxpayer resources as we would our own budgets. Environmental stewardship is also important, but drastic increases in regulations and taxes are not the way to do this.