Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session has gone by quickly, as we have just over two weeks left. This week proposals are being unveiled for our three supplemental budgets – operating, transportation and capital.
Last week was the house of origin cutoff. House bills had to be sent to the Senate or they are likely dead for the session, unless they are deemed necessary to implement the budget.
In this update I will give you an overview of House Democrats’ operating budget proposal, the majority party’s transportation plan as well as some of the bad legislation we stopped from getting to the Senate.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
House Democrat’s operating budget proposal
The majority party in the House unveiled their $65 billion supplemental operating budget on Monday. It would increase spending by $6.2 billion, or 10.5%, over current 2021-23 spending. It includes a number of one-time transfers including:
- $2 billion to the transportation budget’s multimodal account;
- $737 million to the capital budget;
- $300 million to the new Washington Student Loan Program; and
- $397 million to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Account to prevent solvency surcharge.
Noticeably missing is meaningful tax relief despite a historic $15 billion budget surplus and inflation running at 7.6%, the highest level in more than forty years. That equates to costing the average household an extra $250 a month. Combine that with the two years of lockdowns and mandates causing financial stress, and we are missing the perfect opportunity to provide tax relief for working families.
To show the state can provide meaningful tax relief for working families while still addressing critical needs, our ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, has put together the “SAFE Washington“ budget framework. It would:
- Cut the state sales tax by a full percentage point.
- Deliver billions of dollars in ongoing funding for transportation projects.
- Reduce B&O taxes on the sectors seeing the highest inflation, including manufacturing, timber, and food processors.
- Repeal the mandatory long-term care tax and replace it with an optional program.
- Rescue the beleaguered Paid Family & Medical Program to avoid another payroll tax increase on employees next year.
- Offer one-time grants to businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, including hotels and restaurants.
- Provide police departments with funding for officer retention and recruitment bonuses.
His framework would also leave a four-year surplus of $2.1 billion for other supplemental-year government spending programs while the Democrat plan would only leave a small four-year ending fund balance of $297 million.
Majority party’s transportation plan
It has been about two weeks since Democratic lawmakers unveiled their transportation package, but it continues to make headlines this week. First, the majority party continues to be called out for not including Republicans in the negotiations.
- Build state’s transportation plans on a bipartisan foundation | The Seattle Times
One of the other reasons it is making headlines is the export tax on fuel supplied to our neighboring states. Alaska, Idaho and Oregon are not pleased with the Democrats’ plan to raise their gas prices to pay for Washington’s transportation needs and infrastructure. All three governors have indicated they will take action if Washington state includes this as part of their transportation plan.
- Washington’s proposed export tax is “unacceptable” says Oregon Governor | MyNorthwest
- Idaho Governor, AG request stop in Washington’s fuel tax | KHQ TV
- Alaska, Oregon officials speak out against Washington fuel export tax | The Center Square
The transportation package is a 16-year package with anticipated revenues of $16.8 billion. Click here, for the resources bill. Click here, for the spending bill. While it does not raise our gas tax, it would increase fees by as much as $2.3 billion on things such as car/motorcycle license plates and driver’s licenses.
It would only allocate $3 billion for maintenance and preservation. The Washington State Department of Transportation shared with the House Transportation Committee that $10 billion over 10 years is needed. Finally, under this proposal, only electric vehicles may be purchased, sold, or registered in Washington state after vehicle model year 2030.
You may recall House Republicans unveiled a transportation plan before the legislative session. To review it, click here. Our plan would:
- dedicate general fund revenue to transportation needs instead of raising state gas tax.
- direct sales tax revenue on motor vehicles to preservation and maintenance of infrastructure.
- create a program that bridges the divide between transportation safety in urban and rural communities.
House of origin cutoff
As I mentioned earlier, last week was the house of origin cutoff. We were able to stop a number of bad bills from getting to the Senate. Part of that was due to our marathon floor debate on House Bill 1837. This legislation would overturn a 2003 initiative prohibiting state ergonomic regulations from going beyond federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.
The potentially devastating impacts this could have on our economy cannot be understated. It would drive costs up for consumers, hurt small businesses and especially hit our health care and agriculture industries hard.
We fought this bad policy all night long. The nine-hour debate began around 9 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 14 and went until about 6:30 a.m. the following Tuesday morning. We stood strong and the vote was very close, 50-48. I am hopeful the long debate and bipartisan opposition sends a message to the Senate when or if they bring the bill up for consideration.
While this bill passed, we were able to stop a number of bad bills, including a couple in the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, where I serve as the ranking Republican. Bad bills not surviving the cutoff:
- House Bill 1838 is the governor’s bill that would create riparian management zones, effectively killing much of the state’s farmland and devastating the agriculture community. The zones created could be up to 200 feet in some places with landowners covering the bulk of these costs (planting trees and other mitigation methods). Huge fines would be levied against any landowner not in compliance.
- House Bill 1895 came from the Department of Natural Resources. It would conserve one million acres of forest land and reforest an additional one million acres by 2040. This legislation seemed more about carbon and halting working forests than a balanced conservation, deforestation and restoration plan.
- House Bill 2026 would implement a road usage charge (RUC). The legislation would charge drivers the greater of a gas tax or a RUC of 2.5 cents a mile, beginning with mandatory participation from those who own electric vehicles, and then expanding on a voluntary basis to those who own hybrids and all other vehicles.
- House Bill 1767 would target electrification/utility bill increases.
- House Bill 1486 would expand reasons an individual may voluntarily quit their job and receive unemployment insurance.
- House Bill 1727 would eliminate statewide general elections in odd-numbered years.
- House Bill 1692 would lessen the criminal penalty for drive-by shootings.
New communication tool and stay in touch
You can now receive the latest news and information from the Legislature directly to your cell phone, via the House Republicans’ new text alert system. Just click here or on the image below to sign up.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns about this email update or issues before us this legislative session. I appreciate your input and feedback.
It is an honor and privilege to represent the 15th District!