Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Now that the election is behind us, I am once again able to provide e-mail updates from the state Legislature. Please share this information with your friends, family and neighbors, and have them sign up for my updates from my legislative website: www.representativedavehayes.com.
2015 – The 'Education Session'
On Jan. 12, lawmakers will convene in Olympia for the 2015 legislative session. This year's session is scheduled for 105 days to allow time for the two-year state operating budget to be written and adopted.
Education funding will dominate the 2015 session. We must meet the state's paramount duty to fund education in a manner that adheres to the state constitution and satisfies the requirements of the Washington State Supreme Court under the McCleary decision. To be clear, the new funding and policy package must be ample, equitable across the state, and sustainable well into the future to be in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling (go here for background and a timeline of the McCleary decision).
Funding education is a matter of priority. We need to fund it first before all other state programs.
As a member of the House Education Committee, I'm working to make sure our communities have choice, local control of policies, accountability in our schools, and that everything we do leads to better student outcomes. It's also imperative that we stop the practice of passing under-funded mandates down to our local school districts. That's why I met yesterday with board members and superintendents from each of Island County's three school districts (read the South Whidbey Record story). It is important that we work together, both in the Legislature and in our communities, to ensure the best education possible for our kids.
Inslee wants a BILLION DOLLAR tax increase
Hold on to your wallets! Next week, Gov. Jay Inslee will unveil key elements of his big government legislative agenda for 2015 and propose a 2015–17 budget (read his press release here).
How does the governor propose to pay for his “program enhancements?” Through what he calls “new revenue.” That's Olympia-speak for tax increases. And this time, Inslee is not holding back. He wants to increase taxes by more than a BILLION dollars! (Read the Washington State Wire story: Inslee budget to push for $1 B tax increase to close education funding gap.)
I believe the debate should always begin with a focus on priorities – not tax increases. Those priorities should be funding education first, ensuring public safety and protecting the most vulnerable in our communities. We need to work to craft a balanced operating budget that funds our priorities within existing revenue. Let's also remember that Washington will have nearly $3 billion more in revenue this budget cycle compared to the last one. That's an 8 percent pay raise to the state over the next two years WITHOUT raising taxes! Unfortunately, most taxpayers have not had an increase in their paychecks in the last two years. I believe the state needs to live within its means, just as the rest of its citizens have to.
Climate change agenda not a high priority, except for the governor
Next Wednesday, Gov. Inslee will announce whether he will seek a carbon tax (estimated to add as much as a dollar a gallon to fuel prices, including home heating fuel) and/or a cap and trade program. Yesterday, the National Federation of Independent Business released its survey on the issue, which state director Patrick Connor said shows “Washington small businesses and voters, by a large margin, agree that Governor Inslee should not act on his climate agenda until all the facts are known and debated.”
My goals and priorities: 2015 session
While the state budget and education will be the most pressing issues of the 2015 session, my focus will also be on representing the specific needs and interests of citizens in the 10th District. Here's a quick look at some of the items I will be proposing:
- Flood control of Stillaguamish River – The south side of State Route 532 in Stanwood is under constant threat of flooding. I will be seeking funding in the state's capital construction budget for a new dike on the south side of the highway to protect those lands from flooding. The dike would include a walking path to enhance our local area.
- Helping active duty military families access higher education – We recently gave priority registration for college classes to active duty military personnel. This gives them more surety in planning for the future. I plan to propose legislation that would extend priority college registration to spouses of active duty servicemen and women.
- Streamlined permitting for transportation projects – The reason many transportation project costs are inflated is because of the intense, often duplicative red tape and bureaucracy of obtaining permits. The Skagit River Bridge replacement showed we can do projects quickly and cost efficiently without harming the environment. I will be seeking legislation to streamline permitting, protect the environment and save money.
- Equity for city-owned marinas – Port districts that own marinas are exempt from paying lease fees to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Unfortunately, cities that own/operate marinas are not. Legislation passed a few years ago that temporarily exempted the City of Oak Harbor from paying DNR lease fees will expire in a couple of years. That could cost Oak Harbor $125,000 in DNR fees – money that could pay for a police officer and/or a firefighter. I will be proposing legislation that treats cities the same as port districts when it comes to exempting DNR marina lease fees.
Mark your calendar for Jan. 22 for a telephone town hall
The most important job I have as your state representative is listening to you and taking your concerns to Olympia. That's why Rep. Norma Smith and I will be holding a telephone town hall meeting with 10th District citizens on Thursday, Jan. 22, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. If you would like to participate, call us during that date/time at (425) 249-0219. We will be taking your questions and providing an update of the legislative session. More details are to come as we get closer to the event.
I am here to serve and represent you
I invite you to contact my office any time you have questions, comments or ideas about legislation and state government. Thank you again for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!