Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now in the 23rd day of the special session. The purpose of this special session is to adopt a budget for the coming biennium. If the Legislature fails to adopt a budget by its adjournment on May 25, it would require a second special session. I'm frustrated by the lack of progress because failure to adopt a budget is a disservice to our constituents.
Last year, the majority in the Legislature voted to increase your taxes, all of which were soundly rejected by the voters. This year, the majority party is looking more at fees to try and circumvent the will of the voters, who overwhelmingly adopted Initiative 1053 to reinstate a requirement of two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass tax increases. Across the state, voters said “no” to higher taxes. Some in Olympia like to say that a fee is more acceptable than a tax, but both impact your family's hard-earned income.
If any proceeds of a fee are diverted into the general fund for government programs, it is a tax. Fees were created to regulate public welfare and provide a specific purpose.
Recently, I wrote to you about some of the fees being proposed at the time. These fees (and taxes) affect every area of our lives, and it's important for everyone to be fully aware of what's being proposed. Below, I will focus on transportation and natural resources.
Changes in transportation costs significantly affect everyone in our community. Some say an increased fee is not a big deal, but they all add up to a heavy burden on Washington families. I'm concerned about the trend to nickel and dime you at every turn. This session's proposed transportation fee increases include:
- House Bill 2053 imposes 82 higher fees for funding transportation. Check out this chart with each of the fee increases detailed. Some of the fee increases impacting all of us include:
- drivers' license renewal would increase from $25 to $40;
- new instruction permit would increase from $20 to $35; and
- an application fee for a vehicle title would increase from $5 to $18.
- House Bill 1046 would authorize counties to charge a $50 fee to provide a quick title for a vehicle or vessel.
- House Bill 1229 would increase fees for commercial drivers' licenses from $30 to $61.
These higher fees not only increase personal travel costs, they also increase virtually every product and service we use.
Agriculture and natural resources
Our area is proud of its rich heritage in agriculture and manufacturing. It's also important for us to protect the public use of public land. Here are some examples of proposed fee increases in agriculture and natural resources.
- House Bill 1387 increases various licensing fees for hunting and fishing and creates a new commercial license application fee, among other things.
- House Bill 1588 would increase fees for hydraulic permit approval permits – required for “any project that will use, divert, obstruct, or change the natural flow or bed of any of the salt or fresh waters of the state.”
- House Bill 2050 would establish an annual water rights fee for water rights processing and information.
- House Bill 2086 would modify several agriculture related fees (see the chart at right) in order to decrease general fund support for the Department of Agriculture. Specifically, some of these fees would be raised accordingly:
- milk processing license applications would increase from $55 to $150;
- food storage license fee applications would increase from $50 to $500;
- food processing fees, which currently range from $55-825, would increase to $275-$4,125; and
- egg dealer license fees would increase from $30 to $60.
- Senate Bill 5622, recently signed into law, will place a $30 fee each year for people to use parks.
I believe the government should be looking for better ways to provide more value, instead of demanding you pay more with no improvement in service. You deserve better, and our families deserve better.
It is an honor to serve you.