Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2020 legislative session has ended. The final gavel went down the evening of Thursday, March 12. It was an anticlimactic finish this year due to the concerns, fears, and unknowns surrounding our current environment and the coronavirus. With the good graces of technology, we were able to have a small Sine Die celebration from the floors of the House and Senate through a live video feed.
We did leave Olympia with an unsettling feeling of what the future holds. The coronavirus continues to threaten our health, lives, economy and state finances.
Republicans and Democrats are united in responding to and combating this crisis. We passed a bill at the close of session providing significant funding for coronavirus response. Time will tell what else will need to be done, especially as schools, restaurants, and other small businesses continue to close their doors. I know our families, local communities, businesses and district as a whole have been heavily affected by the closures, social distancing, and this new “normal” we're experiencing.
We've created a website with all the latest updates and resources on the coronavirus. I urge you to bookmark this site. It's updated daily with any new information from local, state, and national sources. You can access the website by clicking here.
We will get through this together.
Budget update | 2020 Supplemental Operating Budget
The final proposal was very partisan. It's unfortunate we couldn't work together to create a proposal that doesn't spend, spend, and spend, but rather offered some sort of tax relief to the citizens of Washington state. While Democrats' did reduce some overall spending, their final budget still spends too much and doesn't pull back state spending enough. In these unknown and fear-filled times, we should've spent less and saved more.
As a result of this budget, state spending has increased by 73% since 2013. This is not sustainable and sets us up for trouble with a potential shift in our economy. Below is a chart to show the increase in state spending over the years. For all of these reasons, I couldn't support the final budget proposal and voted against it.
Budget update | 2020 Supplemental Transportation Budget
When priorities are put before politics, good policy comes forward. An example of this is the final supplemental transportation plan. This budget makes some reductions in expectation of $30 car tabs, while preserving funding for special needs transportation, maintenance and the existing project list. This budget also funds capital projects, operating programs, and debt service. It's funded by fuel taxes, license fees, tolls, bonds, and federal funds. This is a good bipartisan budget I was glad to support.
The final budget provides good news for our district, and some of the transportation projects that were placed on hold by the governor as a reaction to the passage of I-976. Several projects will move forward including Phase 7 of Highway 12. We worked hard, in collaboration with local governments, to ensure this project was protected in this budget. An emergency clause in the budget makes certain these funds are available for immediate use.
Budget update | 2020 Supplemental Capital Budget
This final bipartisan budget makes some adjustments to the two-year capital budget. Our district was fortunate to receive funding for several important projects through this budget. They include:
- $200,000 for Walla Walla's Community Hub Public Safety Initiative;
- $350,000 for downtown Pasco revitalizations;
- $100,000 for levee repair in Waitsburg; and
- $50,000 for levee repair in Starbuck.
Stay in touch!
I've returned to the beautiful 16th District for the interim. I do have a district office but due to the recommendations of top health officials and the governor, it won't be up and running until the end of April. Should this change, I'll let you know. However, you can still contact my Legislative Assistant, Marge, by calling (509) 492-4648.
It's an honor to serve you.