16th District lawmakers wrap up the 2019 legislative session
As featured in the Dayton Chronicle and Prosser Record-Bulletin
One thing we can always count on, in good times and bad: there will always be pressure on the state Legislature to raise taxes and to spend every last penny it has available. The 2019 legislative session was no exception.
We adjourned Sunday night after 105 days at the state Capitol, one of the hardest fought sessions in recent memory. Our problem wasn't a shortage of money – we have experienced historical revenue growth with an extra $3 billion in revenue, thanks to taxes generated by a booming economy.
Yet, our colleagues in the majority party maintained we still didn't have enough, and raised taxes by $2 billion over the next four years.
- Business and occupation taxes: A B&O tax surcharge on services that will impact 90,000 employers and raise costs for consumers. A B&O tax increase on certain banks that will result in costs being passed on to customers.
- Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). A new, graduated REET that will restrict housing supply, increase rents and harm our economy.
- Sales tax exemption. Ended the sales tax exemption for Oregonians, which will drive away business from border communities.
- Oil tax. A higher tax on oil that will increase the price of gas.
These $2 billion don't include the school levy lift bill, which will increase property taxes for families across the state by modifying the amount local school districts can levy for K-12 enrichment programs.
As Republicans, we worked across the aisle to offer reasonable and fiscally responsible solutions to these challenges before us, and lessen the burden on you. Sadly, our efforts were soundly defeated by the majority party.
The session also ended with the passage of the 2019-21 operating, capital and transportation budgets.
- Operating budget. The final $52.4 billion budget increases state spending by $8 billion over the next four years, an 18 percent increase over current levels. This resumes the unsustainable spending practices that got us into trouble when the last recession hit about a decade ago. We should have learned our lesson the last time – good times never last forever. We could not support this budget.
- Capital budget. The final budget appropriates $4.9 billion for projects statewide, including historic investments in mental and behavioral health, K-12 school construction, affordable housing, and water quality issues. The 16th District received adequate funding for projects across the district. We supported this budget.
- Transportation budget. The final budget appropriates $9.8 billion for transportation-related projects across the state. It provides agency requested modifications that will help these agencies to provide necessary transportation services. The 16th District also received adequate funding for projects across the district, including major improvements to Hwy 12. We supported this budget.
Until January, we will be back in the 16th District reconnecting with the communities we serve and working on thoughtful policy for next year. As we return, please know we are available to meet with you, answer your questions, and hear your ideas. You can find our contact information on our websites:
It is an honor to represent you and the citizens of the 16th District. Thank you for allowing us to serve you!
Editor's note: Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser, Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla, and Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla; serve the 16th Legislative District.