Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to thank those of you who were able to join me, Rep. Volz and Sen. Holy for our 6th Legislative District telephone town hall. With over 600 participants in our hour-long community conversation, we had a lively and constructive discussion on a variety of legislative and local issues.
Also, last month I asked what you thought about efforts to eliminate the death penalty and to reduce prison sentences for violent offenders in an online survey. Here are the results:
Do you support SB 5339, the legislation to eliminate the death penalty in Washington state?
15.9% = Yes, I believe the state should eliminate the death penalty.
82.78% = No, I believe we should keep the death penalty
1.32% = Not sure
Do you support SB 5819 which would eliminate the penalty of “life without the possibility of parole”?
8% = Yes
92% = No
One of my highest priorities is to make sure our communities, families and individuals are protected. I believe this should be government's highest priority. However, violent criminals are being released from prison early and committing more violent crime – even murder – all in the name of saving money. I am actively and passionately working to make sure that those who have done the crime, serve the time. But I need your help. If our local communities don't rise up and let their voices be heard, I fear this trend of reducing sentences for violent sexual predators will continue.
My bill to help protect the privacy of firefighters, first responders and others who file PTSD claims has passed the Senate! I'm excited my legislative colleagues agree with me that we should do everything we can to make it easier for PTSD sufferers to come forward. Firefighters and first responders deal with tragic and troubling situations on a daily basis. We need to make sure that privacy concerns don't stand in the way of them seeking the help they need. I'm hopeful the governor will sign my bill soon. You can watch my short video on why I introduced this legislation here.
The capital budget, commonly referred to as the state's “construction budget,” is funded mostly through the issuing of general obligation bonds. The capital budget passed by the House spends $4.6 billion on projects like parks, public buildings, local infrastructure projects, K-12 schools and higher education facilities.
In our region, the House proposed capital budget directs money to EWU, Pine Lodge, Airway Heights and Cheney projects, Eastern State Hospital and more. All told, there is close to $89 million appropriated for the 6th District and surrounding area. If you want to see the exact totals and for which projects, you can view a breakdown by each legislative district here.
Taxes and spending – far outpacing local family incomes
Did your family income rise nearly 20 percent over the last two years? For most folks I've talked with, that kind of increase would be cause for celebration. Yet that's what the House budget does – increases state spending by 19.4 percent!
Despite record revenue collections across the state, the majority party in the state House proposed a new two-year operating budget that relies on $4.2 billion in new taxes, including a capital gains income tax. This tax is unnecessary, unreliable, and unpopular. If it passes, it will be challenged in court as unconstitutional. Building a budget that relies on money we may not have because of legal challenges is not the way to go. I firmly believe we can fix the governor's broken mental health system, provide more for special education, keep the public safe and protect the most vulnerable among us WITHOUT raising taxes.
The Senate and House budget writers will spend the next few weeks hashing out their differences. Because Republicans are in the minority, we've pretty much been left out of the process. However, we sponsored several amendments to make the budget better (you can learn more about those here) and we spent time in debate on the House floor explaining why taxes aren't necessary.
Thank you for allowing me to serve
I want express my thanks to so many of you who have contacted my office with questions, concerns, or just to encourage me in my first year of office. The last few months have been humbling, exciting, frustrating, tiresome – and so many other adjectives! But through it all, your words of encouragement have enabled me to work as hard as I can to serve you and make you proud. I know you and I will not agree on every issue. But please know that my door is always open. I represent all of you and I'm doing the best I can to make Washington – and the mighty 6th District – the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you.