2022 legislative session •
Like you, I have been closely watching events unfold on the world stage this week. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine and those responsible for responding to this crisis. Today, the House adopted House Resolution 4660 which recognizes Ukrainian Americans. It was sponsored by Rep. Kelly Chambers.
While several critical issues must be addressed by state lawmakers in the next two weeks, these decisions pale in comparison to the decisions being made by U.S. and world leaders right now. Our work will continue in Olympia, but I think it’s important to keep perspective as we do it.
Week seven of the legislative session can best be described as budget week. State representatives will be on the House floor tomorrow as we vote on the supplemental operating and transportation budgets. We are expected to vote on the supplemental capital budget next week.
With just 13 days left and so many issues still unresolved, it is a great time for you to be involved in the legislative process. And I encourage you do to so.
Democratic supplemental operating budgets
House and Senate Democrats released their respective supplemental operating budget proposals on Monday. As expected, neither included meaningful tax relief — despite a record budget surplus and the worst inflation in 40 years. This represents a missed opportunity. It also continues a pattern of the majority party not listening to Washingtonians and Republicans. And it will be tough for them to explain.
SAFE Washington budget framework
This framework focuses on safety, affordability, families, and the economy (SAFE). Specifically, it would reduce the state sales tax, put more police officers in communities, create jobs, and redirect billions for transportation projects — while still leaving a healthy reserve.
The proposal continues our work over the last two years putting real solutions on the table and offering contrast for Washingtonians. As you may recall, Drew also introduced a budget framework last year that influenced the final budget. We look forward to the debate tomorrow.
Supplemental capital budget
The House supplemental capital budget was also released Monday. Unlike the operating budget, it has bipartisan input. In fact, differences are often with the chambers — not the caucuses. Rep. Mike Steele leads our efforts and does a phenomenal job representing our caucus and communities.
In this news release, Mike discusses the highlights of the plan — including new investments in housing, infrastructure, mental health facilities, broadband, and school seismic safety. The proposal would spend $1.5 billion and leave $27.6 million in the ending fund balance. When it comes to the House floor, I expect strong if not unanimous support from House Republicans.
Export fuel tax controversy
The controversy over the Democrats’ reliance on an export fuel tax to fund their Move Ahead Washington transportation plan has escalated, with governors and state lawmakers from Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska threatening to retaliate if Democrats implement the tax. It got so bad that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown felt it was necessary to send a message in an op-ed in The Seattle Times titled, “Put the idea of a fuel tax back on the shelf.”
This is another example of Democrats putting forward short-sighted, partisan policy and then being dumbfounded when there’s opposition. We’ve seen this before on policies relating to the long-term care payroll tax, policing, and housing — to name a few. Same approach, same results.
I think it’s important for the Democrats to answer two questions. First, what will this mean for future collaboration with these states, including a new bridge across the Columbia River? Second, and more importantly, what will it mean for Washington consumers?
Letter to governor, Democrats
Republican leaders and transportation ranking members sent Gov. Inslee and Democrats a letter on Monday asking them to re-evaluate their transportation plan, drop the export fuel tax, consider shifting sales tax on motor vehicles from the general fund to the transportation budget, and work with Republicans.
Republicans are not opposed to a transportation plan. However, we will push back on the wrong plan — including one that includes new taxes, fees, and potentially hidden costs. It is unclear when the House will vote on the legislation relating to the plan. It is separate from the House supplemental transportation budget. I will share more details on both issues in future email updates.
One of our most impressive caucus members is Rep. Mary Dye. Mary is our lead on environmental and energy issues and her breadth of policy knowledge is an asset to our caucus, Legislature, and state.
Late last year, Mary introduced a comprehensive environmental proposal called the Outdoor Recreation and Climate Adaptation (ORCA) Plan. It would invest in our state parks, forest health, Puget Sound restoration, drought resiliency, and flood mitigation. She talks about her proposal in this video.
Mary recently went on TVW’s Inside Olympia to discuss climate-related issues with her Democratic counterpart on the House Environment and Energy Committee. I encourage you to watch the segment, as it reveals a contrast in approaches.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader