Jan. 22, 2013
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Lawmakers returned to Olympia on Jan. 14 to begin a new legislative session that is scheduled for 105 days. During that time, we will need to craft a new operating budget for the 2013-15 biennium to pay for state services.
CREATING A RESPONSIBLE BUDGET WITHOUT TAX INCREASES
The state is facing a $900 million budget shortfall. It’s not as large as the multi-BILLION dollar shortfalls the Legislature has experienced over the last three years, but it will still be a challenge to bring lawmakers together to pass a fiscally-responsible budget and prevent tax increases.
Taxpayers are sending us $1.5 billion more than last year, which again emphasizes what I’ve repeatedly said about state government: it doesn’t have a revenue problem -- it has a SPENDING problem.
When you hear about “cuts” in the budget as discussions heat up, keep in mind those are “Olympia cuts,” which are the difference between the increases state agencies and programs are seeking and what is actually funded. In the world outside Olympia, a cut of an increase is no cut at all. It’s just less of an increase.
In my view, budgeting is about setting the correct priorities, just as you must do with your budget at home. I believe our highest priority should be funding education first. Education is constitutionally the state’s paramount duty. Our two other priorities in the budget should be protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens and ensuring public safety. We can fund these priorities within the existing revenues (including the additional $1.5 billion of revenue over last year) without raising taxes.
A NEW GOVERNOR, A NEW SENATE, A NEW SEATMATE
As I noted in a recent article to our local chambers of commerce, there are many changes in Olympia. We have a new governor, Jay Inslee, who was sworn into office Jan. 16. Two Democratic senators joined with Republicans in the Senate to create a shared system of power between the two parties, which is known as the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus. Kirk Pearson won the 39th District seat in the Senate, so now we have a new member representing our district in the House of Representatives – Rep. Elizabeth Scott of Monroe.
I’m very pleased to be working with our 39th District team. Rep. Scott brings an extensive background of higher education to the legislature. She has taught English in four Washington community colleges. She is now serving on the House Higher Education Committee and is an assistant ranking member of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. Rep. Scott will be a great advocate for our district and a strong voice for education, small businesses and taxpayers.
In this day and age in which technology and communication are an integral part of our daily lives, I encourage you to take advantage of the many ways to get connected to information about your Washington State Legislature. Here are some very important links to keep you informed:
- Capitol Buzz – A daily electronic clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- The Current – An online publication from House Republicans to include you in the legislative process. Click here to subscribe.
- Capitol Report – A three-minute weekly radio program (aired on KSVR, Mt. Vernon) that discusses current issues of the 39th District and the state. Click here to sign up for my RSS podcast. You can also get all of the Washington House Republican Capitol Report programs on your iPhone and iPad through the iTunes store by clicking here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/capitol-report-washington/id579017734.
- Check out my Web site – This year, I have a new Web site: houserepublicans.wa.gov/dan-kristiansen. From this link, you can view get more information about me, view my news releases and read my regular articles to the chambers of commerce and our local newspapers.
- Photos – Access my photo gallery here.
- Video updates – Every two weeks, I record a new legislative video update with the latest news from the Legislature. You can view my reports here on YouTube.
- TVW – The state’s own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org
- Legislature’s Web site – You can get bill reports, committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www. leg.wa.gov
Please share this e-newsletter with everyone you know and encourage them to sign up for it from my Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/dan-kristiansen.
Please stay informed and involved, ask questions, send your comments and ideas, and hold us accountable.
It is an honor to represent you!