Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I would like to thank those of you who were able to attend my town hall meetings on Saturday, March 12. I appreciate your input and the exchange of ideas as we enter the last 30 days of the legislative session.
Our state revenue forecast was released last week and the news continues to be discouraging. We learned our state economic recovery and consumer confidence have been hampered by slow job growth, rising gas prices, a struggling construction industry, and developments in the Middle East and Japan. These economic conditions continue to put a strain on families and small businesses, and have caused state tax collections to underperform. As a result, our state now faces a $5.1 billion shortfall for its 2011-13 budget cycle that begins July 1.
From now until the end of the legislative session, state lawmakers must be focused on reforming state government and strengthening the economy. I've yet to see a blueprint from the majority party that would finally align spending with revenue, and I'm worried that a status-quo mentality could prevent the necessary reforms from moving forward. I have also seen too many bills die in the legislative process that would not only get Washington working again, but create more revenue in the process. You can read about some of these solutions here.
While the economy and budget are priority issues, other important bills are being considered that could have a big impact on our communities. One such measure is House Bill 1997, which would continue the taxes raised to finance Safeco Field that are set to expire at the end of this year. Under the legislation, these taxes would be extended and used to fund the arts, community development, low-income housing, and the state convention center. When these controversial taxes passed initially, it was based on a promise that they would end. House Bill 1997 would break this promise and I think it is unfair to the taxpayers of King County. I voted against this bill and I'm hoping it is put down in the Senate. You can listen to an interview I did with KUOW's Ross Reynolds on this issue by clicking here.
In closing, it is an honor to represent the communities of the 5th District. Please contact me if I can ever be of assistance or if you plan to visit Olympia. I will touch base again soon.