Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With less than a month left in the 2013 legislative session, things are starting to heat up in the budget and taxes arena. Several committee meetings have been cancelled and bills (both good and bad) continue to die as House Democrats seek to play hardball with the bipartisan Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate. We're hearing the Senate may release their budget as early as this week, with the House Democrat proposal coming out the following week. I'll keep you informed these last few weeks as the budget negotiations take center stage.
Speaking of budgets…
Gov. Jay Inslee breaks campaign promise to not raise taxes – proposes over $1.2 billion in new and increased taxes!
You can't make this stuff up, folks. Six months ago, gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee was finally cornered by the Seattle Times about what he would do about taxes if he were elected governor:
“I would veto anything that heads the wrong direction and the wrong direction is new taxes in the state of Washington.” – Jay Inslee, Seattle Times, Oct. 12, 2012
Last week, his budget proposal included over $1.2 billion in new and increased taxes. His excuse for being caught in this lie? Semantics. Political wordsmithing. He thinks that eliminating certain tax incentives on small businesses and other employers shouldn't qualify as “new taxes.” Well, governor, tell that to the barber, beauty shop owner, janitor, music teacher or veterinarian who will have their taxes go up because of your proposals.
Even Democrat Treasurer Jim McIntire thinks employers are taxed too much in our state. Here's what he said to the Association of Washington Business last week (click here to read the entire article):
“You don't often hear a Democrat say we over-tax business, but we do. I want to be really clear that it's a problem in the state.” – Jim McIntire, State Treasurer, March 21, 2013
Here's a quick snapshot of Gov. Inslee's tax proposals:
MAKING 'TEMPORARY' TAXES PERMANENT:
- 50-cent beer tax, and expanding it to microbreweries ($127 million)
- 0.3 percent Business and Occupation tax on service businesses ($534 million), including:
- barbers and beauty shop owners
- music teachers
- real estate agents
- school bus operators
- vehicle trade-ins when purchasing a new car: $94.8 million
- local residential phone service: $83.2 million
- computer software: $78.5 million
- most state businesses that were given lower rates in order to locate or expand in Washington: $66.2 million
- non-residents who shop in Washington stores: $63.7 million
- bottled water: $51.5 million
- recycled fuel environmental programs at Washington's oil refineries: $40.8 million
- resellers of prescription drugs: $29 million
- long-term rental of commercial land/buildings: $27.8 million
- import commerce: $24.1 million
- farm equipment: $5.6 million
With about $2 billion more in revenue expected to come into state coffers during the next budget cycle (the 2013-15 biennium), Inslee's call for more taxes is a weak one. If $2 billion more isn't enough, perhaps state government is growing faster than it should.
Local high school students and teachers visit me in Olympia
I had a fantastic time last week visiting with four high school students and two teachers from the 15th District. Here's the press release and the photos we sent to the local papers:
Rep. David Taylor hosts local high school students and teachers in Olympia
OLYMPIA…Each year, a select group of students and teachers from the 15th Legislative District make the trek to Olympia to tour the state capital, attend committee hearings, visit with legislators and have lunch with Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee.
Taylor, who pays for and has sponsored the two-day event for the past four years, says it's a good way for him to stay connected to his legislative district during the long session and a great way for local students to learn firsthand what being a legislator is all about.
“It's been exciting to meet the students and teachers over the years and be able to show them exactly what we do on a daily basis here in Olympia during session,” said Taylor. “It's one thing to talk about the legislative process, how a bill becomes a law, and the checks and balances of our form of government; it's another thing entirely to see it up close and in person.”
Taylor said he allows the schools to determine which students get to participate each year.
“Whether it's through a grading system, a writing project, a civics lesson or significant extracurricular achievement, the students that participate need to show some initiative and interest in public policy, civic involvement or government in general,” said Taylor. “The young men and women who were chosen this year were outstanding. It was a pleasure to meet them and see their enthusiasm. I know they'll remember this experience for the rest of their lives and I trust it will help shape their level of community involvement going forward.”
“It was so exciting to see the places and walk through the halls of buildings that we hear our teachers talk about in class, but seldom actually get to visit,” said Orozco. “I also enjoyed hearing the legislators debate and explain their positions on issues.”
“I think my favorite part was touring the Temple of Justice and seeing where the state Supreme Court meets and deliberates on cases,” said Hernandez. “The library there is one of the biggest libraries I've ever seen. I could spend a lot of time reading the books in that library.”
Two students from East Valley High School also attended: Gabe Abbott and Andres Nielsen, with Advisor, Nathan Whittle.
“Early on in our tour, we heard one of Representative Taylor's colleagues tell us, 'There's a thousand ways to kill a bill; but only one way to get a bill passed,'” said Abbott. “It didn't really sink in what he meant until we got to see the committee hearings and floor debates and the whole process firsthand. It's a very tedious journey for a bill to make it from an idea into law.”
“I liked seeing and hearing about how important it is to have a strategy at every turn,” said Nielsen. “You can't be caught by surprise if you want your bill to pass the next step in the process.”
On Wednesday, the entire group was escorted into the House Republican Caucus room, a place where strategies are hashed out, positions on bills are taken, and lobbyists are not allowed to go. They addressed the legislators and then had their picture taken with Rep. Taylor on the House floor.
“Both the kids and the teachers were fantastic this year,” said Taylor. “The folks back home should be proud of the way they represented our district.”
(from left to right) Shelby Hall, Esmeralda Hernandez, Sonia Orozco, Gabe Abbott, Rep. David Taylor, Andres Nielsen and Nathan Whittle on the House floor.
As always, please let me know if you have questions or concerns about state government or the issues we're dealing with in Olympia. It is an honor to serve you in the Legislature.