OPINION: Bringing your voice to the state Capitol
Special to the East Washingtonian
The 2019 legislative session began Monday, Jan. 14. We are honored to serve you and bring a strong voice of our 9th District citizens to the state Capitol.
This year's 105-day regular session is scheduled to end April 28. We invite you to read our weekly column here in the East Washingtonian during that time, as we bring you news and our views from Olympia.
This year, our primary responsibility is to adopt a budget that keeps state government operating for the next two years.
Between 2012 through 2017, majority Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Schoesler, passed bipartisan operating budgets that directed historic investments in K-12 education, reduced college tuition, and ensured care for our most vulnerable citizens. We staved off massive tax increases proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee and majority House Democrats.
Unfortunately, the landscape is different this session. Democrats have large majorities in the House and Senate. With single-party control, our Democratic governor thinks he can advance Seattle-centric policies that may not have the best interests of Eastern Washington in mind. He's already proposed a massive spending increase – 22 percent – along with a lengthy wish list, including his climate change agenda, which would grow the biennial budget to $54.4 billion.
Despite the fact the state is bringing in $4 billion more due to a strong economy, Gov. Inslee wants to impose another $3.7 billion in new taxes, including a capital gains income tax, and increase the business and occupation tax and the real estate excise tax. We think tax increases would hurt working families and our state's economy. We'll discuss these and other concerns in future articles.
We are also bringing your interests to the table, including:
- Allowing school districts to have a “depreciation account” that lets them pay for certain maintenance needs (like replacing a leaky roof) with cash on hand, instead of being limited to the traditional bond-based method of paying for capital projects;
- Prohibiting local governments from imposing a tax on jobs – like the “head tax” that was approved, then dropped, by the city of Seattle in 2018;
- Cleaning up the state's tax code to make sure taxpayers aren't affected by rules that no longer apply for any number of reasons;
- Making sure McCleary bipartisan investments and reforms continue, that small school districts are okay, and ensuring no one falls through the “education cracks;”
- Addressing the mental health crisis that led to decertification of Western State Hospital and put patients and caregivers at risk;
- The budget/spending/tax issue mentioned above;
- Development of water infrastructure in the Odessa Subarea in the Columbia Basin where aquifer water levels are in serious decline;
- Expansion of broadband to unserved areas of Washington; and
- Wildfire suppression that would allow local fire departments to deploy air support in the initial attack.
We are also unified against removing Snake River dams, which would be least effective in saving orcas while most detrimental to our communities.
We'd like to hear from you on these and other issues. Here's how you can reach us:
Sen. Mark Schoesler
Website – MarkSchoesler.src.wastateleg.org/
P.O. Box 40409, Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786-7620
Rep. Joe Schmick
P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504 (same mailing address for Rep. Dye.)
Phone: (360) 786-7844
Rep. Mary Dye
Phone: (360) 786-7942
Please call, write or email us anytime. Thank you for the honor of allowing us to serve you!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, and Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, represent the 9th Legislative District.