June 30, 2017

Dear friends and neighbors,

Today has been a busy day in Olympia and I want to give you an update. As you may have already heard by now, the Legislature passed a two-year operating budget, just hours before the government would have shut down. While we narrowly averted a shutdown, state agencies and workers were already gearing up to begin layoffs and closures. Just the threat of a shutdown was costly to taxpayers, and it was as unnecessary as it is irresponsible to govern in that manner.

We had plenty of time to get this job done instead of waiting until the 11th hour.  The K-12 McCleary State Supreme Court ruling was given in 2012, more than five years ago. But here in the Legislature, we received the new K-12 education plan and details about the budget just this morning. I am deeply concerned that legislators and the public were not given enough time to truly review the documents and truly understand what we were being asked to vote on. I got through some of it, but seriously, no one could read the whole thing in the short amount of time we had. I expect there will be ‘unintended consequences’ that will require legislative fixes next session. 

While I am largely supportive of the policies in the state operating budget and the K-12 education plan, the lack of transparency and the funding mechanism prevented me from voting in favor of either measure.  In this case, the education policy was embedded in the bill with a $4.1 billion property tax increase that would disproportionately affect our district. The operating budget is based on the same unfair property tax increase.  This funding mechanism is unsustainable, and we will be back in the same situation after the temporary lift of the property tax cap ends in four (4) years. 

The 48th Legislative District is a high property value area; however, not everyone who lives here can afford this property tax increase. This property tax increase could mean housing instability for too many homeowners and renters in our district.

We had other options of how we might have funded K-12 education more progressively and fairer. These other options could have included a reasonable capital gains tax, or closing tax exemptions on large corporations in our state. Senate Republicans would not back away from their insistence on a significant statewide property tax, though the amount that ended up in the final budget was lower than originally proposed. All 295 school districts across the state will see a property tax increase beginning next year. At full implementation of the plan in our district, property taxes in the Bellevue School District will increase an average of $830.

Our homeowners already lift more than their fair share of the tax burden and support of today’s proposals would have further placed the tax burden on our fixed-, low-income, and working families.

I got into politics because of education and education funding. From a very early age, my parents instilled the importance and value of education into me. Access to a quality education is the best way to move up in the world. I do not take today’s vote lightly.

I remain ready and willing to work with my colleagues to find solutions for the unintended consequences these bills will raise as we begin to digest their effects to the seven million people living in Washington.

Best regards,