Dear Friends and Neighbors,
During these past three weeks, the governor has been busy signing bills into law. Or, in other cases, vetoing bills he disagrees with. In total, the Legislature passed 309 bills, covering a multitude of topics ranging from Pickleball to group insurance standards.
2022 supplemental operating budget
The most significant bill to pass, certainly in dollar terms, was the 2022 supplemental operating budget: Senate Bill 5693.
The Legislature passes a biennial budget during odd-numbered years. During even-numbered years, however, we pass a supplemental budget to pay for unforeseen events such as natural disasters, pandemics, or simply to cover gaps in state agency funding.
This year was highly unusual because the Legislature convened with a historically large budget surplus of $15 billion over four years.
I believe that we should have seized the opportunity to provide meaningful tax relief to Washington families – most of whom have struggled economically during the pandemic and are now feeling the impacts of high inflation.
The path chosen by the majority party was to spend the money on new and existing programs and not provide any tax relief. It was a missed opportunity, and the reason why I could not support the budget.
With the supplemental budget, total state spending has risen 24% this biennium (2021-23)
Here are some of the highlights:
- $350 million to support the Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance Account;
- $346 million for public school enrollment stabilization;
- $318 million for housing and homelessness programs and services;
- $261 million for state employee compensation;
- $236 million for K-12 salaries and operating costs;
- $150 million to design and implement a state student loan program;
- $103 million to support the transition to electric vehicles;
- $63 million for wage increases and benefits for home care workers;
- $58 million for in-home care personal needs allowance;
- $45 million for wage increases for family childcare providers (SEIU Local 925);
- $21 million for a one-time cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Plan 1 members of the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers Retirement System (TRS); and
- $20 million for wage increases for adult family home providers.
You can view more details here.
This budget does have some good in it, but it neglects the taxpayers. We should always keep the taxpayer in mind, and never take more money from the public than is absolutely necessary.
House Republicans offered several proposals to reduce the sales tax, property taxes, and business taxes which would get money back into the pockets of everyday Washingtonians and help jumpstart our state's economy as it emerges from this pandemic. Unfortunately, those proposals were not allowed to advance.
National Vietnam War Veterans Day
March 29th was National Vietnam War Veterans Day – a day to honor our Veterans who served during the Vietnam War.
More than 58,000 Americans gave the ultimate sacrifice in that conflict, and too many soldiers were not properly welcomed home; they were denied the dignity and respect deserving of U.S. servicemen.
My own dear husband Charles Donaldson is a Vietnam Veteran. If you know any Vietnam-era Veterans personally, please take time to thank them for their service!
Thank you for reading this update and being engaged in the legislative process! Please stay in touch. You can always contact me directly.
It's an honor to serve you!