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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature adjourned June 29, after the fifth longest session in state history. Needless to say, I'm disappointed it took so long to find a resolution. However, the final results are something in which I think many can be pleased.
Operating budget is sustainable and bipartisan
After months of negotiations between the House Democrat majority and the majority in the Senate made up of Republicans and two Democrats, a deal was made that I believe is probably one of the best outcomes we could have had this year. Not only that, the final budget was the most supported budget in the Legislature in 20 years! I joined in voting for the budget because:
- it spends less than we are expected to bring in with current tax revenues;
- it does not include proposed tax increases on small businesses, bottled water, beer or out-of-state shoppers;
- it increases targeted education funding by $1 billion to begin meeting our constitutional obligation under the McCleary court case. Along with legislation to improve student outcomes, this year's actions show we are making great strides in improving education;
- it freezes higher education tuition for the first time in 25 years; and
- it leaves $630 million in reserves for next year's supplemental budget.
Of course, this is not a perfect budget (I don't really think there is such a thing), but it strikes the right balance after House Democrats led by Gov. Inslee proposed $1.3 billion in tax increases. The final budget places greater prioritization on education without placing a greater burden on hard working taxpayers.
In addition, I'm very proud of our House Republican budget negotiators, Reps. Dan Kristiansen and Gary Alexander, who served to bring the two sides together and find consensus with which so many could agree with. In the House, 81 representatives voted for the budget, while just 11 voted against. In the Senate, the vote was 44-4. This speaks well to the tremendous amount of work that went into the budget and the final details that allowed so many to support it.
Capital budget projects in the 16th District
I'm very pleased with the outcome of the bipartisan capital budget as well, which I voted for. In our district, the capital budget will be fund:
- minor repairs and maintenance at Columbia Basin College and Walla Walla Community College;
- security upgrades at the Walla Walla Penitentiary. This includes video system upgrades which I'm very glad of considering the danger in which our corrections officers face daily at the prison;
- the second phase of the Pasco Second Harvest Distribution Center;
- the Carrie House, new housing for adults with developmental disabilities and who are low-income in Walla Walla. This is important for families to get support and for adults with developmental disabilities to gain some independence; and
Back in district!
It is very good to be back home and to see neighbors and friends around town. I've been very busy with my small business, but also making time to talk with constituents. It's important for me to hear from you – please feel free to call, e-mail, or stop by one of my district offices shared with Rep. Terry Nealey. The contact information is at the bottom of this e-mail.
It's an honor to serve you!
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000