Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As I'm sure you know, the Legislature is beginning a 30-day special session called by the governor in order to address a nearly $2 billion budget shortfall for the remainder of the 2011-13 biennium. I want you to know that my priority for the special session is to balance the budget without raising taxes. Families and employers around the state are struggling every day to make ends meet. I don't believe we should be asking our citizens for more money when the majority of them have less.
I also want you to know that I absolutely do NOT support the reduction of levy equalization dollars, letting criminals out of jail early, or the eroding of services for the developmentally disabled. In my opinion, these are the very fundamental priorities of government. We should fund these things – education, public safety and helping the truly vulnerable among us – first, and then if there's any money left over, follow the priorities of government process to deliver the services the public wants.
Establishing a list of priorities is something the governor and budget writers on the other side of the aisle have yet to do. Instead of prioritizing what state government should or should not be doing, the governor is threatening deep cuts to many truly important services unless the voters approve a half-billion dollar increase in the state sales tax. She calls this increase temporary, but many taxes throughout the years have been sold to the public as 'temporary' and are still on the tax books today.
I believe we can fund levy equalization, keep offenders in prison and help the developmentally disabled without dipping into the wallets of taxpayers. Here's a quick look at how the governor's budget proposal has failed to prioritize spending:
- It cuts funding for senior citizen services by 20 percent while cutting the Department of Ecology total budget by only 4.4 percent.
- It fully funds $11.5 million for state employee step salary increases while cutting $9.2 million from state employment and day services for the developmentally disabled.
- It continues to fund $476,000 for sick-leave cash payments to state employees while cutting $450,000 from funding for the Family Policy Council that supports at-risk youth and families.
- It provides $15.3 million to fully funds a recent initiative (I-1163) that everyone, including herself, has said the state cannot afford while cutting eligibility for certain disability and long-term care services by $14.6 million.
- It maintains 90 percent of funding for the State Energy Policy/Research Office while cutting services for domestic violence legal advocacy and crime victims services by 20 percent.
It makes one think she is purposely cutting levy equalization and services for the disabled and elderly to hold the public hostage for tax increases. That's just wrong and unfair to the people who truly need assistance.
The governor also fails to implement any real reform within state government. We have to find ways to do things differently. The era of 'business as usual' and the government being all things to all people has to end.
I'll continue to update you on the budget situation throughout the special session. I look forward to your thoughts and opinions as we work together to make Washington the best place to live, work and raise a family.
Thanks again for the privilege of representing you in Olympia.
Join us for the 15th Legislative District Telephone Townhall Meeting!
Please join Rep. Bruce Chandler and I on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 6:35pm to 7:35pm for our 15th District tele-town hall meeting. Join your friends and neighbors in a discussion about your concerns. Listen in or talk live from the comfort of your home. Stay connected to YOUR government!
Call toll-free: 1-877-229-8493 and enter pin #: 15540
Also, click the picture below to see a quick video about my views on agriculture and some insight into my ranching activities. The link will take you to my website and you can click on the actual video from there. I figured I'd save your inbox from receiving a huge video file and just send the link.