Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2011 legislative session began on January 10 and will run through April 24. The most important task for state lawmakers is to create a positive job climate in Washington state so businesses will have the confidence and capital they need to put people back to work. Job creation must be our number one priority.
A key barrier to job growth and economic recovery is our state's wholly unsustainable budget. This legislative session, we are facing an approximate $4 billion shortfall for the next two-year budget cycle. In the first five weeks of the legislative session, I have seen the coalescence of two competing approaches to solving the budget crisis. The majority party's approach would make draconian cuts to education and health care to set the stage for tax-increase initiatives this November to “buy back” core, essential services of government.
I strongly reject this approach. Instead, I am advocating for a priorities-based approach to our budget. This means funding essential government services, such as education, public safety and the safety net for our most vulnerable, while reducing the size and scope of state government in other non-priority areas. For example, why do we continue to maintain a state print shop? How can we find efficiencies throughout state government by consolidating agencies? Where can we contract out to the private sector for savings? Where can we make investments in our transportation infrastructure that leverage public-private partnerships? State lawmakers need to answer these questions.
I want to assure you that my highest priorities are creating jobs, strengthening the economy and enacting a priorities-based, balanced state budget that maintains essential government services — without raising taxes. I will keep you apprised of these efforts and other key issues for our communities.
Your input and feedback are tremendously valuable because they enable me to be a better advocate for you in Olympia. Please contact me if you ever have any ideas, concerns or questions.
In closing, I want to continue to be respectful of your privacy. If for any reason you would like to be taken off my confidential distribution list, please go to this link, enter your name and e-mail address, and select “Leave.” This same link can also be used if you know anyone who would like to be included to the list.
We will talk again soon.