Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Spring time in Olympia means it is also budget time. It has been a long stretch of days and nights. I spent long hours in the House Appropriations Committee passing Senate bills before the cutoff date to get those bills out of their respective fiscal committees. After cutoff, we immediately started debating and voting on Senate bills on the House floor, continuing our long days and nights of work.
House Democrats recently released their 2023-25 state budget proposals. Public hearings were held, and the bills advanced from their respective fiscal committees. We voted the House operating and transportation budgets out of the House chamber last week. Below is a breakdown of the three House budgets.
On March 27, the state House of Representatives unveiled the proposed capital budget, House Bill 1147. Serving as assistant ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee, I was at the negotiating table during the budget process. Click here to read my news release. It was great to be part of such a bipartisan effort to ensure all corners of our state were included in this proposed budget. It has more than $19 million in projects for the 15th District including:
- $5 million for the Pasco process water re-use facility;
- $3.1 million for the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District;
- $525,000 for the Yakima County Stadium;
- $500,000 for the Kiwanis Spray Park, lighting and walking trails;
- $412,000 for Othello’s Regional Water Plan;
- $361,000 for the Port of Mattawa Event Center Phase 3 upgrade project;
- $350,000 for the Kiwanis Park Futsal Court and restroom;
- $155,000 for the downtown Pasco North Plaza;
- millions of dollars for the infrastructure and repair work for the community and technical colleges; and
- millions of dollars for the Military Department and Yakima Training Center in our region.
This budget is critical because it brings taxpayer dollars back to our legislative districts so we can assist our local governments or communities in situations where funding may be difficult to come by. The House must still work out its differences with the Senate capital budget.
The House 2023-25 operating budget proposal would increase state spending to $70 billion, a $6 billion increase over current spending levels. As you can see by the chart below, this would continue a trend of historic budget growth. State spending has more than doubled over the last 10 years.
Another concern is the small ending fund balance of $54 million over the four-year outlook. The House version also spends about $1 billion more than the Senate proposal, and allocates money to fund about 1,500 new or expanded programs. This is in addition to other ongoing general fund programs.
I supported the House transportation budget, House Bill 1125. It was put together in a bipartisan manner. It would spend about $13.2 billion, including $646 million for the Washington State Patrol with money to help trooper recruitment and retention. It also gets some of the major Connecting Washington projects back on track that the governor had pushed out or postponed in his budget.
Grant writers for rural counties
My legislation that would require the Department of Commerce (DOC) to establish a grant program to support associate development organizations (ADO) in the recruiting, hiring, and retention of full-time grant writers continues to move through the legislative process.
House Bill 1783 passed the House unanimously on March 1. It has been passed out of by the policy and fiscal committees in the Senate and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.
Capital gains tax ruling – taxpayers beware
On March 24, the Washington State Supreme Court decided to ignore longstanding legal precedent and upheld the 7% capital gains tax approved on party lines by the majority party in the 2021 legislative session.
The court’s 7-2 decision said the capital gains tax is an excise tax, not a property tax, which the state constitution limits to 1% annually.
Every other state in the country, and the IRS, consider capital gains as income. While I am disappointed in the ruling, I cannot say that I am shocked.
Taxpayers beware. While the ruling and the new tax may not reach you today, it could be expanded in the future and impact you and other taxpayers in the near future. Recent headlines from around the state seem to confirm this.
- Bill that would levy ‘excess compensation tax’ on hospitals introduced in Senate (The Center Square)
- WA legislators proposing a new ‘compensation’ healthcare tax (KONA Radio)
- Seattle eyes capital gains tax (KUOW Radio)
- OPINION: No sugar coating it – Washington no longer income tax free (Jason Mercier, Washington Policy Center/The Spokesman-Review)
Stay engaged – follow your state government
Stay informed. There are a number of ways you can follow the Legislature and your state government.
Here are some websites and links that will help you stay engaged this legislative session and during the interim.
- My legislative website | Here you can find contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, radio appearances, and much more.
- The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
- Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips | Daily news clips.
- The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I look forward to keeping you updated during the session, as well as the rest of the year after we have adjourned.
It is an honor to serve the great 15th District!