House Republican Leader calls on Democrats to finish their work or go home
Time out would save taxpayers money while Democrats haggle over tax increases
State House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt said the ongoing disagreement among majority Democrats in the Legislature over how to raise taxes amounts to a taxpayer-subsidized internal squabble.
DeBolt, R-Chehalis, is asking Democrat leaders to send lawmakers home until they can agree on which taxes they want to increase. Even with some lawmakers choosing not to collect their $90 per diem, the special legislative session going on in Olympia is costing taxpayers about $14,000 a day. The 2010 session was scheduled to end on March 11, but without an agreement on the budget and taxes, Democrats have extended the session indefinitely.
“Every three days they keep us in session equals the cost of a teacher,” said DeBolt, who is among the lawmakers not collecting his daily allowance for being in session. “This is a family quarrel right now among Democrats over which taxes to increase. Once they agree on the tax increases, we can come back to Olympia and wrap up the session in a day or two.”
The state House and Senate have spent several days moving a handful of bills, but the majority of the special session has been spent waiting on agreements and moving paperwork between the chambers. The key piece needed to wrap up the session is the budget and the legislation needed to pay for it.
Democrat lawmakers have introduced more than $3 billion in new tax ideas they are considering, including sales taxes, an income tax, business and occupation taxes, license tab increases, as well as taxes on bottled water, candy, and soda.
DeBolt said Republicans remain staunchly opposed to tax hikes, and therefore have had virtually no role in the negotiations.
“Once the governor and Democrats decided that they were going to raise taxes to pay for the budget, the chance of achieving any meaningful government reform to control spending was lost,” he said. “When the time comes to debate these bills, we will do our best to provide a voice for the citizens who cannot afford higher taxes during these tough economic times. In the meantime, however, the taxpayers should not be paying the price for the Democrats’ inability to get their work done.”
When the regular session ended March 11 without a budget agreement, the governor called the Legislature back into session on March 15. She requested that it last no more than seven days, but that deadline came and went on Sunday. A special session can last up to 30 days. If work remains to be done after the 30-day overtime period, another special session can be called by the governor or a two-thirds majority of the Legislature.
Contact: Lisa Fenton, Communications Director: (360) 786-7728
###Washington State House Republican Communications