Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2019 legislative session adjourned at midnight on Sunday, April 28. I've provided some highlights of the session below but before that, I want to thank everyone who took time out of their busy lives to engage with me throughout these past few months. Your phone calls, emails, letters, and in-person visits helped inform the decisions I made on behalf of our communities.
I also want to thank you for subscribing to my email updates. I hope they've been of value to you throughout the past few months, and I would love to hear your feedback. I'll continue to send these updates throughout the interim months, so continue to watch your inbox for emails from me for the remainder of the year.
Now, for the hits and misses of the session:
- The 2019-21 transportation budget advanced funding for the State Route 167/State Route 509 Puget Sound Gateway project by $40 million. The budget also provides roughly $16 million for freight mobility near I-5 and Port of Tacoma Road, $17.7 million for congestion relief on SR 167/SR 410 to SR 18, and several million dollars for various Pierce Transit projects. You can find all of the projects funded in the 25th Legislative District by visiting
http://fiscal.wa.gov/BudgetTProjList.aspx and selecting “25th Legislative District.”
- The 2019-21 capital budget provides nearly $25 million for our communities, which will fund a number of important public works projects in the 25th Legislative District. Find out more here.
- Republicans defeated a capital gains income tax, which was part of the House Democrats' original budget proposal.
- Republicans also defeated a Democrat-sponsored bill that would have raised the price of gas and the cost of goods by creating a low carbon fuel standard, à la California.
- We did right by sexual assault survivors by passing two bills that will end or extend the statute of limitations for most sex crimes, and require the Washington State Patrol to process all rape kits by December 2021 to eliminate the current backlog.
- We took steps to address the opioid crisis by passing the bipartisan Senate Bill 5380, which will establish new rules regarding prescribing opioids and dispensing opioid reversal medication. The bill will also require physicians to discuss alternatives to opioids with patients before prescribing. However, a Republican amendment to prevent “safe” injection sites, or supervised injection sites, was stripped out of the bill.
- The 2019-21 operating budget grows state spending by an unsustainable rate (roughly 18% over current levels) and requires $2 billion in tax increases over four years. This includes a 20% B&O tax increase for certain services to pay for higher education, a progressive real estate excise tax, an additional B&O surcharge for banks, and an increased hazardous substance tax. Our state is seeing record revenue growth and a $2.8 billion budget surplus. This was, hands down, one of the best starting positions budget writers have been in since the Great Recession. There's absolutely no reason we need additional tax revenue to fund our priorities.
- Along with the above, there was no meaningful tax relief passed this year. There was never even a discussion about it.
- Despite efforts I signed onto, no meaningful car-tab relief or Sound Transit reforms were passed.
- The governor's 100% clean energy bill. While this bill contains some laudable goals, it's going to significantly drive up energy bills.
- Not enough was done to address Washington's affordable housing shortage. I sponsored two bills this year that would have helped us get to the bottom of some of the cost drivers associated with constructing affordable housing as well as helped increase the supply by involving more developers.
A note on transparency
We knew when we began this session with Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, we would be seeing more new and increased tax proposals than in years past. So, while the 2019-21 operating budget that passed both chambers on party lines on Sunday is disappointing, it was not the most disheartening part of session.
The process for developing this budget was anything budget transparent. Most of the tax increases assumed in the budget were introduced, heard and passed out of committee, and brought to the House floor – all in less than 24 hours. They gave no time for the public to weigh in at all. What's more is some of these bills were title only, meaning no substantive policy was actually outlined in the bill documents. The passage of the final budget also wasn't transparent. The public didn't get to see the 800-page budget until day 104 of the 105-day session.
Regardless of your political affiliation, I hope we can all agree this complete and utter lack of transparency is just wrong. This is no way to govern.
Connecting with me
Now that session has ended, I'm back in the 25th District full time. As I take the remainder of the year to prepare for the next legislative session, I want to hear your thoughts for how we can improve our communities and state. You can still reach me by sending an email to Chris.Gildon@leg.wa.gov, or you can call my district office at (253) 840-4523.
Speaking of my district office, it's now open. The address is 101 South Meridian, Puyallup, WA 98371.
As I mentioned in my last email update, I'm still working on coordinating deep-dive sessions to work on legislation that will help clarify, simplify, or remove regulations hindering businesses and industries throughout our district and state. I welcome your suggestions as I continue to plan these events.
Please know that while the Legislature is adjourned for the year, I am your state representative year round. It's an honor serving you!