The Legislature has now completed the first two weeks of the 2014 session and we’re well underway debating bill proposals and negotiating with our colleagues. Since this is a short (60-day) session, the timeframe to accomplish what we need to do is reduced and everything seems to be getting done in a hurry. I wanted to share an update on the progress of some of my bills before going into detail about a few others. Continue reading
On Tuesday, the Washington State Legislature adjourned Sine Die (it’s Latin for “without a day” and pronounced “SIGH-nee-DYE”) for the second time this year. Yesterday, we began the second special session of 2013 – our third session of the year – with only one priority: pass a state budget.
While I’d like to say that both sides are working collaboratively to reach a common ground, the fact is the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has already passed two bipartisan compromise budgets and Democrats in the House of Representatives are simply refusing to back away from their wish list of new and increased taxes. This, despite the fact that the state is projected to receive over two billion dollars in new revenue for the upcoming 2013-15 biennium (two-year budget cycle). Continue reading
The special session has kicked into a higher gear as we approach June 11th, the 30th and final day of the special session under Washington’s constitution. Earlier this week the governor voiced how he likely would call a second special session to begin immediately if Tuesday comes and goes without a budget agreement. Perhaps that spurred majority leadership in the House of Representatives to finally get serious about budget negotiations, because on Wednesday they offered a new spending proposal.
The good news is that the House proposal scaled back its original tax plan, as well as the overall level of spending from the budget proposal it approved April 12. The bad news is that the vast majority of those spending reductions are tied to education, meaning that the House’s new approach would harm our state’s students and schools.
I remains focused on working collaborativly to find agreement on not only an operating and capital budget, but also the associated reform bills. My hope is that we will soon vote on a final budget that holds the line on taxes, gives K-12 and higher education the boost they deserve and ensures state government will be more accountable, transparent and efficient. As negotiations continue, I expect things to develop quickly. Continue reading
On April 19 the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bare-bones, no-new-taxes transportation budget for 2013-15. Three days later the House Transportation Committee adopted a separate bill that would impose a 10-cent hike in the state portion of the gas tax over three years, and create or increase an array of other transportation-related fees.
The no-new-taxes nature of the transportation budget didn’t change as it sailed through the Senate (with a 46-1 vote) and the House (vote: 72-25) and on to the governor, who signed it May 20. Although the governor is still cheerleading for more transportation revenue, at least publicly, the reality is this: The Legislature can adjourn for the year without another word about transportation because we already have a new transportation budget in place.
Upon realizing the 105-day 2013 legislative session would end without the passage of a state budget, 15th District Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, made this statement:
“I believe it’s terribly shameful that the Legislature couldn’t get a budget out after nearly four months, especially since the state is receiving $2 billion more in revenue and the fact that the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus passed and sent to the House a budget that lives within the revenue the state is expected to receive over the next four years. Historically, the Legislature slows down when the pressure is off, and if we end up leaving town during a ‘rolling special session’ the pressure needed to reach a deal in a timely manner is drastically reduced. Continue reading
Greetings, and thanks for reading my Olympia Report e-newsletter! The 2013 legislative session is well underway, and we’ve just passed our first cutoff deadline. Friday was the last day that policy committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate could consider bills from their body of origin. This week, only the Senate Ways and Means Committee and Senate Transportation Committee can continue to hold public hearings on bills until fiscal committee cutoff this Friday. After that, it’s two weeks of the full Senate debating and passing bills in the Senate Chamber.
I’m pleased to report that three of my bills have already been passed by the full Senate and are now being considered by House committees. Seven more of my bills have received do-pass recommendations by Senate committees and are now making their way to the Rules committee in preparation for full Senate debate. You can read more about my bills and other issues facing the Legislature this session by visiting my website, jimhoneyford.senaterepublicans.wa.gov. Continue reading
Sen. Jim Honeyford began the 2013 legislative session Monday by accepting the role of ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee. Under the new Majority Coalition committee structure, some committees are chaired by Democrats, some by Republicans and some are co-chaired.
“The Majority Coalition Caucus could have claimed every committee-leadership position for its members,” Honeyford noted, “but we want to promote bipartisan collaboration and cooperation to get government working again. That’s why we chose to invite Senator Brian Hatfield, a 19th District Democrat, to chair the ag committee this year. He accepted, and I am looking forward to working with him and the other committee members this session.” Continue reading
The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council adopted the third revenue forecast of 2012 yesterday. It is essentially unchanged from the June quarterly forecast. The anticipated revenue collection for the remainder of the 2011-13 biennium is $30.47 billion, up $29 million (about 8%), and for the 2013-15 biennium the forecast is for $32.65 billion in revenue, up $23 million (about 7.2%).
Our state’s revenue outlook is still cloudy considering how Washington’s unemployment rate is on the rise again (see the next story).
The approaches taken by the incoming Legislature and the new governor will dramatically affect Washington’s business climate. If the pre-recession employment level doesn’t come back until “sometime in 2014,” as our state’s chief economist anticipates, it becomes even more critical for state government to live within its means. Raising taxes to enable non-essential spending increases isn’t going to encourage the creation of the long-term, family-wage jobs our state needs. Continue reading
I hope you are having a nice beginning to your summer. I’ve been keeping quite busy in meetings and events within our district and around the state. I’m sending you this e-newsletter today because I wanted to give you a sense of what kinds of activities I’ve been engaged in since the legislative sessions ended earlier this year.
Though the Washington State Legislature is technically a part-time deliberative body, the activities in which state senators and representatives participate occur year-round. As you’ll see below, I’ve been very active and will continue to be so throughout the summer and fall. Continue reading
After 90 nearly consecutive days of activity in the Washington State Legislature, lawmakers finally came to an agreement early Wednesday morning that led to the passage of a balanced, sustainable state budget. The reforms our Senate bipartisan coalition was able to get into the final version of the budget made the grueling extra effort worthwhile.
With these reforms, we all but ensure that we won’t be back here in January facing another billion-dollar budget deficit. We could have settled for less just to get out of Olympia a month ago, but in the end it would have left state taxpayers with a perennial budget deficit. The Senate coalition was steadfast in its belief that enough was enough, and fortunately we were able to stick to our guns on this one. Continue reading