Legislature spins its wheels while families continue to struggle
State Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, today said the Legislature is on the brink of failure as the 30-day special legislative session enters its second week. He said the snails-pace is particularly reprehensible at a time when 314,000 Washingtonians remain out of work and are struggling to balance their own personal budgets.
“We came here to solve a very serious budget problem. We've been in session 11 days and the closest we've come to solving the problem is the possibility of a partial solution, “ said the Republican Leader. “While it's certainly better than no budget solution at all, House Republicans are ready to solve the entire problem now. Remember the more we do now the more money we save taxpayers. If the Legislature was earning a grade for its performance on the special session, I would give it an 'F'. Every day the Legislature is in special session and fails to close the state's budget shortfall, or adopt policies to get Washington citizens back to work, is a day in which taxpayer dollars are wasted.”
DeBolt and his seatmate, Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, submitted a list of budget and job-creation solutions to the governor last month. They submitted the following four job creation reforms that won't cost taxpayers any money, some will result in savings and could generate additional revenue by creating jobs and accelerating the state's economic recovery:
- Suspend GMA requirements in counties with significant and persistent unemployment. HB 1592 would alleviate the cost and encumbrance of controlling growth when none is occurring and when those regulations stand in the way of badly needed economic development.
- Require permit decisions in 90 days. HB 1961 would require agencies to make permit decisions in 90 days or it is granted. House Republicans say it would add certainty and eliminate unnecessary delays in permit decisions in order to significantly stimulate economic activity. Let's free up those who are ready to put people to work.
- Moratorium on rulemaking. HB 1156 would support the governor's decision to suspend unnecessary rulemaking and extend the moratorium for three years or until state revenue growth shows evidence of economic recovery.
- Recognize hydropower as renewable energy. HB 1125 would recapture our competitive advantage by reclassifying hydropower as renewable energy.
- Allow 65 non-tribal card rooms to operate electronic scratch ticket machines already allowed in the state. All money raised would fund priority programs; K-12 education, health and human services and public safety.
None of the proposals have been considered.
“Creating jobs is a far better approach than the Democrat plan to raise taxes on people and employers when they can least afford it,” said DeBolt, referring to the governor's proposed $500 million sales tax increase. “House Republicans believe we should establish priorities of government to fund education, protect the most vulnerable and keep our communities safe. Instead Democrats have tied these essential services to a tax increase. Clearly we don't share the same priorities.”
DeBolt said the following examples from the governor's budget proposal highlight some of the governor's misplaced priorities. Her proposal would:
- fund $11.5 million for state employee step salary increases while cutting $9.2 million from state employment and day services for the developmentally disabled;
- cut funding to senior services 20 percent while only cutting the Department of Ecology's total budget by 4.4 percent;
- cut services for domestic violence legal advocacy and crime victims services by 20 percent while maintaining 90 percent of funding for the State Energy Policy/Research Office; and
- continue to fund $476,000 sick-leave cash payouts to state employees while cutting $450,000 from funding for the Family Policy Council that supports at-risk youth and families.
With almost no legislation moving during the special session, House Republicans have used the time meeting as a caucus to identify budget solutions using the priority of government process, as well as the concerns and feedback they've heard from their constituents.
“The longer we sit around and wait for Democratic budget writers to solve the budget shortfall, the more difficult the problem becomes,” said DeBolt. “House Republicans have been ready and willing to roll up our sleeves for several months now. We've offered a number of solutions and so far we are still waiting for the leaders in this state to take action. Sadly, taxpayers are the ones who will end up losing.”
For more information on House Republicans: houserepublicans.wa.gov
###Washington State House Republican Communications