Dear Friends and Neighbors,
First, I want to thank everyone who was able to join Rep. Bill Jenkin and I on Saturday, March 23, for our three town hall meetings in Prosser, Walla Walla, and Dayton. Each event was well-attended, productive, and we covered a variety of topics. Among those topics were budget and taxes, which is a perfect segue into this email update.
Last Friday, the House approved the House Democrats' $53 billion spending proposal on a party-line vote, with Republicans voting 'no.' We stood united against this budget plan for a number of reasons.
For starters, this budget would increase spending by $8.6 billion, or 19.4%, over current spending levels. That would mean that since our governor took office in 2013, state spending will have increased by a whopping 70%. This level of growth is unsustainable, and mirrors mistakes made in 2007 and 2008 leading up to the Great Recession.
Back then, the Legislature called for another major increase in spending because times were good economically. However, the Legislature had incorrectly assumed the boom times were here to stay when we know now, shortly after, the recession hit, leading to deep and painful cuts to state services.
Right now, about 80% of economists are warning we're due for another recession as early as 2022. We should be doing all we can to keep the good economic times rolling, not make promises we may not be able to keep once another downturn hits in the near future.
This budget proposal would also require a tax increase of more than $4 billion. The source of this additional revenue would largely come by way of a capital gains (income) tax, a graduated real estate excise tax, and an increased B&O tax rate for certain services. These calls for tax increases are despite a recent revenue forecast showing the state is taking in record tax collections.
In fact, with revenues increasing and our caseloads decreasing, we have a surplus of about $3 billion. That's before any tax increases at all. That's plenty of money to fund our shared priorities.
Finally, this budget does nothing to direct more funds into the Budget Stabilization Account, our state's rainy day fund. As I mentioned above, a recession is on the horizon, which means we should be doing all we can while times are good to bolster our reserves so we can weather the storm that's coming. Instead, the proposed budget continues a tax-and-spend approach without regard for future economic conditions. That's irresponsible.
As budget writers come together during the remaining few weeks of the legislative session, I hope they can negotiate a plan that is far more feasible and prudent than the budget debated in the House last week.
Momentum for expanding remote testimony opportunities in state House
Last month, the House approved a resolution I co-sponsored to explore ways to provide more remote testimony opportunities. The resolution encourages the state House to pursue a remote-testimony pilot program similar to what the Senate has offered for several years, as well as directs the Executive Rules Committee to take up the matter by Oct. 1, 2019.
The Senate has been providing remote testimony sites throughout Washington for a number of years now, and I think it's time for the House to follow suit. You can learn more about the resolution here.
My recent video update
Did you know that I film video updates throughout the legislative session? To watch them, visit my YouTube playlist here.
In my most recent video update, I discuss the House Democrats' 2019-21 operating budget proposal as well as my approach to governance and fulfilling my role as your state representative. Give it a watch here or by clicking below.
As session comes to a close over the next few weeks, I encourage you to continue reaching out to my office with your thoughts and ideas. You can do so by calling (360) 786-7828 or sending an email to Skyler.Rude@leg.wa.gov.
It's an honor serving you!