Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With the end of the fiscal year looming, the Legislature finally passed an operating budget on Friday afternoon. After a regular session, a special session, and part of a second special session, we are going home for the year.
This is the first budget that I have been able to support. I am glad that we were finally able to work out a budget agreement that is balanced and prioritizes K-12 education. In fact, it invests at record levels in our schools. It also holds off tuition increases at our colleges and universities and preserves our health and human service safety net. It even avoids the extension of temporary tax increases and the imposition of new business and occupation taxes. I don't like every detail of this budget, but politics requires compromise and collaboration across party lines. Though it took longer than anyone wanted, I was glad to be able to vote for this budget.
You can read more about the budget here: House Republican leaders join Senate Majority Coalition Caucus in support of education-first budget. You can also get into the fiscal details here: Budget compromise balance sheets and information.
During the budget debate, Rep. Gary Alexander, my party's lead budget negotiator, thanked the speaker and the majority party for including him in the budget process. He also acknowledged the Senate, led by its Majority Coalition Caucus of two Democrats and 23 Republicans. Finally, he thanked Rep. Dan Kristiansen, our minority leader, and Rep. JT Wilcox of Yelm, our floor leader. Our caucus leadership brought wisdom, experience, and class to the negotiations, playing an indispensable mediating role among the caucuses.
Rep. Kristiansen spoke too, describing the diversity of the Legislature. Legislators come with various ideas and backgrounds, and hail from every part of the state. Even with partisan differences, we are able to work through our differences and come up with a solution. The vote in the House was 81-11 (in the Senate it was 44-4).
After the vote, everyone in the House rose to their feet in applause. It was a moving moment for me, and I know a lot of others were emotional. It really showed the possibilities of our deliberative system. It's too rare that we see this kind of outcome. I hope this sets the tone for legislative sessions to come.
Just before adjourning on Saturday, the House and Senate passed a Capital Budget that includes several projects for the 25th District, including $11.6 million for the Pierce County Skills Center in Fredrickson and $2.18 million for a water quality infrastructure project at 15th Street SW in the City of Puyallup.
The House also passed a transportation funding bill on Thursday. This bill didn't survive the Senate, but it's important for our district. The bill would fund completion of Highway 167 from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma, one of my top legislative priorities. While I supported the bill to advance this project, I also believe that we should bring down costs for building transportation infrastructure. We need serious reforms to our transportation system. On Tuesday the House passed my bill, House Bill 1978, to streamline permitting for transportation projects. You can read more here: Zeiger transportation reform bill passes House.
Please send your feedback on the budget and other bills. And feel free to call anytime if you have ideas or questions. It's an honor to serve!
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