Dear friends and neighbors,

The Washington State Constitution states that the legislature shall meet for 60 days in even numbered years, and for 105 days in odd-numbered years. Well friends, 105 days have unfortunately come and gone without the adoption of a 2017-19 operating budget or a resolution to how we will fairly and amply fund K-12 education in our state. This means that the governor has called the Legislature back into special session to finish the work we came here to do.

Still no budget agreement – it’s time to come to the table and negotiate

As it stands right now, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed their budgets. Now is the time when budget leaders from all four caucuses would normally come together to negotiate the final, go-home budget. So far, Republicans in the House and Senate have refused to come to the negotiating table. Refusing to negotiate is not the way we will reach a compromise budget agreement. It is time to put the kids and people of Washington first.

In my opinion, at the center of this debate is 1) the issue of whether to raise taxes or not,  2) the fundamentally different visions of what a successful society looks like,  and 3) how we ultimately get there.

The Senate Republican plan relies on a $5.6 billion property tax that would affect every household in the state and provides millions in tax cuts to wealthy individuals and corporations. On the other hand, Democrats in the House of Representatives propose to make our tax system more fair by adopting a capital gains tax on the top one percent, reform our business and occupation tax, the real estate excise tax, and close a number of tax exemptions. At this point, negotiations are critical to advancing the operating budget process, which I hope will finally begin in good-faith.

Friday’s capital gains tax vote and what it really means


Our state has a broken tax system and I am disheartened to see the issue brought before the Senate for purely political motives. On Friday, two tax measures came to a vote before the Senate, capital gains tax and reform of the business and occupation tax. Both of these proposals failed 0-48. 

In my time in the Legislature I have never seen a bill brought to the floor that received not a single vote in favor of its passage. It was a political stunt. This is not governing; it is a dramatic denial of our responsibilities and duties to the people who elected us.   

I am fully in favor of progressive tax reform and will be the first to vote for it when an honest proposal is offered. Please don’t believe that there isn’t support for progressive taxes in our state – there is. I voted against this stunt because it was not a genuine strategy to fund our schools. Senate Republicans chose our last moments on the floor on Friday to pull this childish stunt and I do not support that kind of behavior.

Unfinished business: Saving the Public Works Trust Fund

We have not yet managed to save the Public Works Trust Fund from being swept again for the operating budget.  They are sweeping this trust fund at a time when our state desperately needs the funds for repair and development of the vital infrastructure necessary for our economy to continue growing.  This trust was capitalized by community ratepayers with a small amount added to our utility bills  to ensure that low-interest-rate funding would be available for clean water, bridges, waste water systems, safe roads and the like.   The account provides our local governments with the capital to reinvest in our public infrastructure.

The alternative to the Public Works Trust Fund’s revolving loan fund is  debt financing in the bond market with higher interest rates, fewer projects in our communities, and much higher price tags for infrastructure repair, maintenance and replacement. Debt service is paid to Wall Street instead of being returned to the Public Works Account to be loaned out again in our communities.

This is bad financial management. If you were to purchase a car or house tomorrow your financial planner would never tell you to choose a higher interest rate and jeopardize the rest of your family’s finances. Building public infrastructure is no different!


Best regards,


P.S. The distracted driving bill has been delivered to the governor for his signature. Please take care out there and remember to put your phone away while you’re driving. I want to save you from a large fine while also keeping you and our roads safe.