Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2010 regular legislative session ended on March 11. The governor then called a special session, which began Monday, so majority Democrats could have more time to finalize their budget and tax increase proposals.
This is unfortunate. First, it highlights a lack of leadership in Olympia. With sizable majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats should have been able to finish the session on time. On a more fundamental level, a special session costs taxpayers around $18,000 each day. We are now on day three, which equates to a teacher’s yearly salary. This is wrong and a waste of taxpayer money!
The majority party is framing the special session as an extra effort to address jobs. This is not true. If jobs were a priority, they would have passed bills early in the regular legislative session and considered the Made in Washington jobs plan I helped unveil in January. Please let there be no confusion: this special session is about raising taxes by nearly $1 billion in order to balance a budget that is unsustainable.
The majority party has not made any meaningful attempt to reduce the size and scope of state government by setting priorities of government, or to reform our budgeting process. Rather than focusing on the hard tasks of prioritizing government services within existing revenues, the majority party has opted to maintain unsustainable spending levels and to raise taxes. This will only put more people out of work and stall any hopes for an economic recovery in the near term. Simply put, the majority party’s approach will jeopardize the financial future of our kids and future generations of Washingtonians because of the debt the state is amassing.
I realize these are hard decisions, but they are not any more difficult than the choices being made by families and small businesses in these tough times. I hear from people who are making sacrifices to get by, but they are not getting the same from their state government. Our state needs to prioritize government, but we are seeing an approach that makes government the priority. We can, and must, do better.
I will continue to oppose state budget proposals that rely on tax increases, federal bailout dollars and one-time state fund transfers. I find it unacceptable that the budget proposals on the table would only reduce state spending by 1 percent. When families and small businesses across the state are struggling, we must demand that the state restores fiscal responsibility by getting its financial house in order. We have offered sensible proposals to help the state attain fiscal responsibility but, to date, our proposals have been rejected out of hand.
This is unfortunate and not reflective of a “One-Washington” approach that was so highly touted at the beginning of this legislative session by the governor and majority party.
I will keep you posted as the special session evolves. I hope to be back in district soon.