Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Due to election year restrictions, this is the last e-mail update I will be sending you until November.
Unfortunately, the majority party could not agree on how to raise your taxes before the March 11 deadline for a regular session. As a result, the governor called us back into a special session, then expected to last only seven days. Instead, the majority party in the House and Senate spent the fully-allotted 30 days disagreeing, wasting time and your tax dollars.
In the end, the final tax package is the largest in state history. I voted “no” on this $794 million tax increase for 2010 on consumers and employers:
- $242 million tax increase on service employers, such as hair stylists and real estate agents;
- $59 million tax increase on beer, a 50-cent increase per gallon (micro-brews are exempt);
- $34 million tax increase on soda, a 2-cent increase per 12 oz.;
- $31 million tax increase on candy and gum;
- $155 million tax increase on direct sellers like Mary Kay and Avon; and
- $101 million tax increase on tobacco products.
This is just part of the tax package. Most of these tax increases will continue, resulting in a $1.7 billion tax increase for 2011-2013.
I'm really disappointed we couldn't have had more serious discussions about reforming state government. While we had public hearings on proposals to privatize our failing workers' compensation system and breakup the massive Department of Social and Health Services, as soon as Initiative 960 was suspended, all attempts at reform seemed to end.
We lost a great opportunity to do some things to help employers get back on their feet and survive during this recession. Rather than reducing regulations and the power of agency rulemaking, the Legislature chose to continue allowing unelected bureaucrats to hand down mandates to employers with little reasoning or accountability.
As an employer myself, I know the difficult choices that have been made during this recession in the private sector: doing everything possible to not have to lay off devoted employees, including not paying myself. Do I reduce hours or pay? These are just some of the decisions employers are facing. Your government should be making these same difficult decisions in the way it budgets with your hard-earned tax dollars, and so far that has not been done. The 2009-2011 budget as passed this year reduces spending by just 4 percent from the 2007-2009 budget.
I will always advocate for a leaner, smarter government that provides essential services in our communities across the state and cares for our most needy citizens. We must all be part of the solution, demanding more efficiency from our government and promoting the value of reaching out to our neighbors.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me as you navigate your way through your government, or if you have questions, suggestions or concerns about our state government. I have a new district office open in Pasco, note the new number below. Myself and my seatmate, Rep. Terry Nealey, are both available here and in our Walla Walla office on First and Main.
It is an honor to serve you in Olympia and here at home.
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000