Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Due to election-year restrictions, this will be my last e-mail update to you until November.
The Legislature adjourned the 30-day special session on April 13. The majority decided on a $794 million tax increase for this year alone, amounting to a $1.7 billion tax increase for 2011 -13. I voted 'no' on this tax package, which includes (but is not limited to) tax increases on the following products and employers:
- $242 million on service employers, like hair stylists and real estate agents.
- $59 million on beer, a 50-cent increase per gallon (micro-brews are exempt).
- $34 million on soda, a 2-cent increase per 12 oz.
- $31 million on candy and gum.
- $155 million on direct sellers like Mary Kay and Avon.
- $101 million on tobacco products.
After the largest tax increase in state history was passed, the majority passed a final supplemental budget the state will use for the remainder of the biennium, ending June 30, 2011. I was disappointed the budget not only ignored economic realities by reducing the size of the budget only 4 percent from the 2007-09 budget, but also depended heavily on one-time dollars which won't be there in future years. I voted 'no.'
We must craft a budget that positions Washington to be a leading economic force in the West. This means helping employers succeed and create more jobs, and passing budgets which are sustainable for the future.
One of the highlights of the session was a bill that passed to speed up the processing of water rights applications. Senate Bill 6267, signed into law April 1, will allow applicants to pay extra to see their applications processed sooner. Those who do not wish to pay will not lose their place in line. It was critical to me that applicants not be charged an exorbitant fee and that they should receive something for their money. This will allow the Department of Ecology to sustain staffing for the water program, without more general fund money being diverted to purposes other than water rights. You can read more about it here.
As always, please feel free to contact my office with questions, concerns or suggestions about how to make our state a better place for you, your family and your work to thrive. I will write you again in November.