Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's been roughly a month since the Legislature ended the 2019 legislative session. If you're still trying to unpack everything that happened over the course of the 105-day session, read this analysis.
Since adjourning, dozens of bills have been signed into law. Additionally, provisions of some bills met the governor's red pen- namely, the 2019-21 operating budget. Though I voted against this budget due to the dramatic spike in state spending and billions in tax increases, I found some of his vetoes disappointing:
- Section 131(12 and 13) – The governor deleted the section that would have enabled the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to properly track data for the 1,108 leases where the state is the tenant and make that data public. In his veto message, the governor essentially says the section would have required too much work for the agencies. Mr. Governor, I'm sorry to tell you that governing is hard work. The least we can do is make every effort to be open to taxpayers. I wonder how many taxpayer dollars are consumed in those 1,108 leases?
The governor also vetoed the next subsection, which would have funded new infrastructure for higher education institutions to report additional revenue and spending, because it would have created a “significant workload” for OFM. Taxpayers deserve transparency with how their hard-earned dollars are being spent.
- Section 723 – This section was essentially the only budgetary cut we managed to approve and he vetoed it. He called this $23 million cut “arbitrary.” With record revenues, can we really not afford 1% in savings?
- Section 1005 – By vetoing this section, the governor eliminated a $2 million reduction in an account used to recruit and retain businesses in Washington. In his veto message, he proclaimed this reduction would force him to rescind grant awards to businesses. I find this funny because he only spent $632,000 of the $4 million we allotted for this purpose in the previous budget. And there's only one more month for him to use those funds.
We're Number One…when it comes to taxes
Washington state is very competitive. As this data from the Tax Foundation shows, we're outperforming other states, and not in a good way. We have the highest marijuana excise tax and spirits tax in the nation, the second least favorable sales tax environment, and the third highest gas and cell phone taxes. And that's just the beginning.
We also have the fourth highest state and local sales tax rate in the nation, the sixth least favorable environment for corporate taxes, the seventh highest state and local excise tax in the nation, the eighth highest cigarette tax, and the list goes on. With $5.5 billion in new tax increases approved this session, we're well on our way to being number one in other areas, too.
Perhaps the brightest spot of this past legislative session was defeating a capital gains income tax proposal. A majority of Washingtonians have said a resounding 'no' to an income tax in years past. I hope the majority party will start listening to the will of the people soon and abandon the dangerous tax-and-spend policies we saw this session.
Child Care Providers Legislative Focus Group – June 10
As I mentioned in previous updates, I plan to host several deep dive sessions throughout the next few months to work with specific industries on how state regulations affect them. The first of these will focus on childcare, and I'll be hosting along with my seatmate, Rep. Kelly Chambers. I want to hear from both providers and parents to learn about the unique challenges faced and how state government can best adapt to fit your needs. See the invite below for details.
New committee appointees
In addition to the legislative committees I serve on, I was recently appointed to serve on two more committees to work with policymakers in different institutions and across the nation to improve our state.
The first is the Washington State Institute of Public Policy, which conducts non-partisan research in a variety of fields to inform state lawmaking. I'll be attending my first WSIPP meeting June 3!
The second is the Economic Development Committee of the Council of State Governments – Western Division. While serving on this committee, I'll have the opportunity to work with lawmakers in different states in the West on regional economic issues. I was honored to be selected to serve on this committee and look forward to working with fellow lawmakers on such a vital issue to our state and country.
Just a reminder that my district office is now open and I am available for appointments. To schedule a meeting with me, please call my legislative assistant at (253) 840-4523 or send an email to Chris.Gildon@leg.wa.gov. I look forward to meeting with many 25th District residents over the interim to work together on ways we can move our state in a better direction.
It's an honor serving you!