Monthly Archives: April 2017

A Special Session Update

April 29th, 2017|

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 Dear friends and neighbors,

 Sen. Patty Kuderer

Contact:

Email: Patty.Kuderer@leg.wa.gov

Phone: 360-786-7694

Legislative Hotline: 800-562-6000

 Senate Committees:

Health Care (Assistant Ranking)

Financial Institutions & Insurance

State Government

As we wrap up the first week of the special session, I would like to give you an update on what is happening in Olympia. The 105-day legislative session ended on Sunday, April 23. Immediately, on Monday, Gov. Inslee called the legislature back into session because we have not yet adopted an operating budget or resolved how we will amply and fairly fund our state’s K-12 education system. The special session may last up to 30 days. I will continue to work on behalf of our district and fight for a budget that funds our kids and those who rely on critical human services.

‘No Thanks’ to voting on taxes without a negotiated budget

A few days before the regular session ended, Senate Republicans held a vote on the capital gains and Business and Occupation taxes without the context of a final budget. Voting on taxes without fixing expenditures is foolish. No business would pay a bill without an invoice.  The sad truth is the bills were never going to pass the Republican controlled Senate.  So forcing a piecemeal vote on these potential revenue sources outside of the entire budget agreement was nothing more than a political stunt – which is why every Democrat voted ‘no.’ If we spent half as much time actually negotiating the operating budget than we did on the floor that day we would have reached agreement and been done on time. We weren’t sent to Olympia to play games, and I won’t lend my name or reputation to such stunts.  Period.

To watch my speech on the Senate floor, click here.SPK

From day one of this session, we knew we would have to make difficult decisions in order to meet our paramount duty and amply fund K-12 basic education in our state. From day one, we knew this would be a difficult budget year given the slim majorities in the House and the Senate. We were prepared, willing and able to expend the effort toward a compromise budget. But you can’t get to compromise with only one party at the table. Our 1.1 million public school children and their teachers are depending upon us to approve a budget that is fair to all and fulfills our constitutional duty to fully and amply fund public education.   It’s time to put aside the game-playing and get down to negotiating.  And we have an agreed upon starting place:  both sides agree that new revenue is needed. 

The Senate budget proposes the largest property tax increase in our state’s history. We in the 48th Legislative District will be especially hard hit, given property values are some of the highest in the state. But contrary to what some people believe, not all of us live in mansions on the waterfront. I have heard from many people who are on a fixed income, disabled or working three jobs just to keep their head above water – a large increase in property taxes could force them out of their homes. That is unacceptable to me. I also heard from school district officials, school board members, teachers, and parents that the property tax increase combined with the proposed school levy reform will actually cause our schools to lose money. I am all for raising the educational standards in other school districts, but not at the expense of the excellent education our students receive here in the 48th.

Washington ranks dead last in terms of tax fairness. That means Mississippi is more progressive than we are. Quite simply, our state tax system is broken, placing a majority of the tax burden on our low-wage earners while the upper 1% pay very little. That is because we rely predominantly on regressive sales and property taxes to raise revenue. We must make our system more progressive, and the House budget addresses that inequity. One of the revenue sources in that budget is a limited capital gains tax, or a tax on the profit from the sale of property or investments that will affect the upper 1% of taxpayers. Included in the exemptions are single family homes and retirement accounts, for example.  

I am ready to help Washington join 41 other states and vote for this limited capital gains tax, but not in a vacuum as it was presented to us. A limited capital gains tax will help create a more equitable tax structure where the top one percent invests a bit more of their wealth to help our 1.1 million students. Our state needs to adopt a tax structure that brings tax fairness to all Washingtonians.

The Motor Vehicle Excise Tax: the high cost of car tabs

If you have renewed your car license tabs recently, you may have carsbeen surprised by the price. In November, voters approved the Sound Transit 3 expansion to increase light rail service and connect communities in the Puget Sound region. In my opinion, one aspect of the vote was not clear – the real price of car tab renewals. I can understand that people are upset or frustrated by paying higher license tab fees, however, there are ways the legislature can help mitigate costs and provide some relief.

House Bill 2201 is a compromise proposal with Sound Transit. It would help drivers recover some of the car tab costs while allowing projects to continue on schedule. The House of Representatives passed this proposal 64-33. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have opted to stall the bill in favor of their proposal Senate Bill 5893. The Senate bill narrowly passed, 25-24. This plan would jeopardize the voter-approved transportation projects and would subject the state to potential lawsuits from defaulting on bonds, and that would only increase the cost to taxpayers without providing any relief for high car tabs.

I will continue to reach out to my colleagues to find a compromise solution. We need to grant drivers some relief from the high license tab fees and keep transportation projects on schedule. We can do both.

A Washington State Bank?

When the U.S. Congress did not renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States in 1836, it opened the possibility for states to create their own banks. While several states opened their own banks before 1900, they failed for many different reasons. The Bank of North Dakota, established in 1919, continues to be the only state bank in the United States despite many proposals from other states, including Washington.

As a member of the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, I find this proposal very interesting. If our state were to establish a state bank, we would be able to save taxpayer money in the interest and fees that large banks require on infrastructure projects, would help spur economic growth, and create jobs. Our debt service to Wall Street alone is currently $3.2 billion – virtually the entire amount needed now to fully fund basic education.

During the Great Depression and the Great Recession, North Dakota weathered those financial crises much better than most states because of their state bank. It is a valued partner to community banks and last year returned just under 20% on investment.  Creation of a state bank of Washington has its merits.

What do you think? I’ve created a very short Google survey to see if you would like to learn more.

Please continue to reach out to me or my office with your questions, comments, and concerns. It is an honor to serve as your state senator.

Best regards,

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    Kuderer: “It’s time to negotiate, our 1.1 million kids are waiting”

Kuderer: “It’s time to negotiate, our 1.1 million kids are waiting”

April 21st, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, today released the following statement on the 103rd day of the 105- day legislative session as Senate Republicans refuse to negotiate a final budget and brought forward a capital gains tax without the context of a budget:

“I refuse to lend my name or reputation to a political stunt. Forcing a piecemeal vote on potential budget revenue sources outside of the entire budget agreement is not serious negotiation.

“From day one of this session, we knew we would have to make difficult decisions in order to meet our paramount duty and amply fund K-12 basic education in our state. From day one, we knew this would be a difficult budget year given the slim majorities in the House and the Senate. We were prepared, willing and able to expend the effort toward a compromise budget. The Republicans instead just want to engage in gimmicks. As of this point, they remain unwilling to negotiate.

“I take great pride in representing the 48th Legislative district in the Senate in Washington state. We are not the ‘other Washington’ and we work together to work through our differences to create compromise for all Washingtonians.

“Flat out refusing to negotiate as Senate Republicans continue to do is not the way we work. It is unproductive and childish when everyone else is ready and waiting at the table.

“Our 1.1 million public school children and their teachers should not be held hostage as Senate Republicans play games. The business of the Washington State Senate is not a game. The issues we face are serious, requiring difficult decisions by serious people, not political tricks.

“I am ready to vote for a limited capital gains tax, but not in a vacuum as it was presented to us today. Striking a grand bargain means you negotiate both expenditures and revenues at the same time – not on an ad hoc basis. No business would pay a bill without an invoice. But that is what Senate Republicans wanted us to vote on today.

“Our state tax system is broken and the most unfair in the nation. Placing a majority of the tax burden on our low-wage earners is unfair and immoral. A capital gains tax will help create a more equitable tax structure where the top one percent invests a bit more of their wealth to help our 1.1 million students. Our state needs to adopt a tax structure that brings tax fairness to all Washingtonians.

“I am deeply disappointed that so much critical time was wasted on the political stunt of bringing up tax bills with no chance of passing without a go-home operating budget. If Republicans spent half as much effort on negotiating an operating budget than they did on trying to bring tax bills to the floor that they knew would fail we would be finished on time. “

520 Ombusman Appointed

April 20th, 2017|

Did you know the SR 520 Bridge Replacement megaproject has an ombudsman?

Learn more about the new ombudsman for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program here.

 

 

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    Kuderer’s first Senate bill, to help sign language interpreters, signed into law

Kuderer’s first Senate bill, to help sign language interpreters, signed into law

April 17th, 2017|

OLYMPIASenate Bill 5142, signed into law Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee, will allow educational interpreters more time to complete certification exams while continuing to provide sign language interpreting services to children in schools.

“Today’s bill signing is a win for our students and a win for their interpreters,” said the bill’s prime sponsor Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue. “We need to make sure that all students who need a sign language interpreter are not left behind or left alone in the classroom. Today’s bill signing will allow our educational interpreters more time to pass their board certifications and continue to serve students.”

Washington recently enacted standards for certifying sign language interpreters but because pass rates on the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment are below 50 percent, many families of deaf and hard of hearing students, and interpreters voiced concern that more time was needed to fully prepare. This legislation provides a one-time extension to give interpreters additional time to study and pass the test. All interpreters, whether they sign in American Sign Language or use a signing system such as Signing Exact English, will be eligible for the one time extension.

“Over the interim, I worked with educational interpreters and parents in my district,” said Kuderer. “This bill is the result of months of work and reflects the compromise that benefits students and interpreters.”

The bill contains an emergency clause and takes effect immediately.

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    Car License Tabs and the Transportation Budget: An Update from Olympia

Car License Tabs and the Transportation Budget: An Update from Olympia

April 7th, 2017|

April 7, 2017

Dear friends and neighbors,

Spring has arrived in Olympia with the beautiful cherry blossoms! Today marks the 89th day of the 105 day legislative session and we continue to pass bills on the Senate floor.

 

Relief from high car tab taxes rejected by Senate Republicans

If you have renewed your car license tabs recently, you likely experienced sticker shock like people all across our region  when you looked at the increase in the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) on your bill.  Washingtonians deserve real relief, not some gimmick designed to make politicians look like they are listening. That is why I voted against Senate Bill 5893, a poorly drafted proposal that rather than guaranteeing reduced MVET fees, invites an expensive constitutional challenge in the courts.

Washingtonians don’t want or need their elected officials to pass legislation that is obviously constitutionally vulnerable.  We therefore tried to amend the bill with a comprehensive fix to reduce car tabs for Washington’s families without sacrificing the integrity and timelines of the proposed Sound Transit projects that voters approved.  Unfortunately, the amendment failed along party lines, 24-25.  SB 5893 now proceeds to the House where I hope the amendment we proposed will be adopted.

CLICK HERE to watch my speech in favor of the amendment offered by Senate Democrats, and CLICK HERE to watch my speech in opposition to the bill.

I would like to thank everyone that contacted me regarding this issue. I will continue to work toward a solution that will uphold the voter’s approval of the ST3 projects and also deliver reductions to the motor vehicle excise tax without risking an expensive and unnecessary constitutional court challenge.

A good Transportation Budget for the 48th

An efficient and effective transportation system keeps our state moving forward. More and more, we see our on and off-ramps, freeways, and side streets backed up from heavy volumes of traffic.

The 2017-19 Transportation Budget includes many good projects for our district that includes safety and maintenance improvements to roads, improvements to transit, and bike and pedestrian-friendly routes and trails.

Additional transportation investments in our district include:

  • Additional northbound and southbound lanes, widening of I-405 near Kirkland
  • Improvements to on and off-ramps in downtown Bellevue and SR 520
  • Creating peak use shoulder lanes on I-90/Eastgate to SR 900
  • Continue widening of I-405 from Renton to Bellevue
  • Expanding bike sharing in Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond
  • Improve bus stops and transit center access along metro Routes to Totem Lake, Kirkland to Bellevue, and Eastgate
  • Install pedestrian and bike-friendly traffic signals at the intersection of 144th Street at 124th Ave NE in Kirkland.

This list of transportation projects is by no means exhaustive – there are more improvement projects proposed for our district. If you would like to know more about the transportation budget and the list of projects, please click here.

It is my honor to serve as your state senator and I hope you will continue to contact me with your questions, comments, and concerns.

Best regards,

A budget update from Sen. Patty Kuderer

April 3rd, 2017|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Senate Republican operating budget passes on party-line vote

Two days after Senate Republicans released their 554-page operating budget, it narrowly passed off the floor along party lines, 25-24.  I voted no for several reasons. Chief among them is that in truth, this proposal is less about funding education than it is an excuse to raise property taxes aimed mainly at ordinary people, like those of us in the 48th, who live west of the Cascades where property values are highest.  Ironically, this same proposal cuts property taxes for large corporations like Wal-Mart, Boeing and Avista to the tune of $183M per year.  To be clear, these cuts were not requested; they are a perverse consequence of bad policy that relies almost exclusively on significantly raising property taxes to fund education.

I also voted no because this Trump-like budget slashes already underfunded social services programs.  For example, this proposal eliminated funding for housing programs, homelessness and family planning services. It also delayed critical early learning access to our state’s most needy preschoolers. These cuts are unnecessary. To put them in perspective, one (1) year of the unrequested corporate property tax cuts would fund four (4) years of these social services programs.  An amendment to recapture that substantial loss failed along party lines.  The Republican budget also rejects many of the collective bargaining agreements for our hard working state employees and seeks to permanently sweep the Public Works Assistance Account on which our cities and counties rely.

Most importantly, this budget does not go far enough to invest in our kids’ education.  One by one, school superintendents, principals, teachers, school board members, parents, PTSA officers and others in the educational system asked me to oppose this budget proposal because it will reduce funding for schools in our District.  That is yet another perverse consequence of bad policy.

During the debate, I included feedback from our local school districts about how the $5.6 billion property tax increase in the education plan would affect schools and people in our district. Click here to watch a speech on an amendment addressing the property tax hike, an amendment to cap the local levies, and my speech on final passage of Senate Bill 5875, the Senate Republican’s tax  bill.

Budgets are value statements as much as they are financial documents.  They reflect who we are as a community and as a state.  I will continue to work hard to uphold the values of the 48th Legislative District to ensure we fully and amply fund education in a manner that is fair and sustainable, without punishing working families, those on a fixed income, or the homeless.

An operating budget proposal from the House

Earlier this week, Democrats in the House of Representatives released their operating budget proposal setting forth a vastly different vision on how to fully fund education in our state.  While I am still going through the details, the chart below highlights the primary differences in values and priorities in spending.

*Please note: this table reflects the Operating Budget proposals as of April 3, 2017.

Importantly, I have heard nothing but supportive comments from educators for the House operating budget who are elated the new revenue raised under the House budget will ensure schools are fully and amply funded while preserving social services.  The House budget also contains much needed investments in health care, higher education and civil legal aid.  I invite you to contact me with any questions you may have about the budgets.

The Capital budget makes investments in Washington’s schools and communities

The Senate capital budget builds on the House operating budget and funds improvement, preservation, and infrastructure projects in communities all across the state. The 2017-19 capital budget invests a historic $1.1 billion in new classrooms and school construction, and more than $857 million for our higher education institutions. This budget also invests in affordable housing, our environment, and critical infrastructure.

For the 48th, the capital budget includes funding for a new Pacific Northwest Ballet school, and funding for the Coordinate and Safe Service Center in Redmond. The capital budget, which is separate and independent from the operating budget, passed in the Senate on Thursday.

With less than one month left in the legislative session, we have a long way to go to get to an operating budget that represents the values, compassion, and kindness for which our state is known. I am hopeful we will be able to put our 1.1 million schoolchildren and all Washingtonians first in the final budget.

Best regards,