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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The third week of the 2011 legislative session started out with a vote on a new round of budget cuts for the current biennium. The House of Representatives passed a budget bill that made severe retroactive cuts to K-12 education, made use of one-time monies for on-going programs, and avoided necessary reforms to state spending and large government entitlement programs.
I voted against the bill. I was particularly troubled by the retroactive cuts to schools, going back on our promise to fund K-4 enhancement. I don't believe we should take back funds that have already been budgeted and used to hire new teachers. How can school districts budget in the future if they cannot trust the word of the Legislature?
I did support a striking amendment that would minimize the cuts to K-12 education while making necessary reforms to social services. Our proposal included $253 million in reductions.
The approach I and many of my Republican colleagues favor protects education and promotes long-term solutions by eliminating entire programs like General Assistance Unemployable (GAU) while lessening the impact on long-term care facilities. GAU is a state-funded program designed to provide temporary assistance to those deemed unemployable as they transition onto Social Security. However, there is currently a federal program (General Assistance Expedited) that does this. Taxpayers expect the Legislature to end duplicitous programs and streamline the delivery of services.
In the House Transportation Committee this week, discussions began on the completion of Highway 167 and tolling. Traffic relief is an obvious need for our state in many areas, but particularly in the 25th Legislative District.
I am also working in the Higher Education Committee and the Capital Budget Committee to make the most of the limited funding available.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with your ideas or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you as we move through the legislative session.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000