letter from Olympia, week 7

Dear neighbor,

Budgets have been the focus this week. Both House Democrats and the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (SMCC) unveiled their supplemental operating budgets. Supplemental capital and transportation budgets were also introduced this week.

Reps. Hans Zeiger and Brandon Vick on the House floor.There are significant differences between the House Democrat and SMCC budgets. The House Democrat budget drains the Rainy Day Fund by almost $500 million, and it relies on tax increases to fund about $400 million in spending. The budget proposal does not honor our state’s four-year budget outlook statute, and it will be out of balance by approximately $700 million the next biennia if it were adopted into law.

On Thursday, the House passed the proposed spending plan on a party-line vote – 50-47. No vote was taken on the tax increases Democrats are relying on to fund much of this budget. House Republicans did offer a number of amendments during the budget debate with the hope of improving it and directing funds to education. We offered amendments that would:

  • provide a solution to save our charter schools;
  • backfill higher education dollars lost from reducing tuition;
  • implement textbook savings; and
  • direct funding to career and technical education (CTE’s).

These amendments, and many others, failed on party-line votes. The good news is the Senate plan is much more fiscally responsible. I am hopeful the negotiated budget between the two chambers will address many of the concerns my colleagues and I have with the proposal that passed the House.

While we have some work to do on the operating budget, the supplemental capital budget proposed in the House contains good news for our community. The House version currently includes $509,000 for completion of the Riverwalk Trail along the former Van Lierop property. This is a priority for me. Thousands of families use the Riverwalk and Foothills Trail for walking, jogging, and biking. The completion of this critical linkage on the trail would be a great addition to the recent groundbreaking for the City of Puyallup’s Van Lierop Park and the dedication of the nonprofit Step by Step’s new location at the Van Lierop Farm.

Meanwhile, the transportation budget, House Bill 2524, passed the House by a vote of 84-13. There are some differences that must be worked out with the Senate, but they are minimal.

I voted for the transportation budget. I am happy Rep. Melanie Stambaugh was able to pass an amendment in committee for preliminary study work to expand the 410-Traffic Avenue interchange on the edge of Sumner. This will help commuters get on to Highway 167 and other regional highways more quickly.

Next week we will be working to pass Senate bills off the House floor as budget negotiations continue. We are scheduled to adjourn March 10.Legislative Coffee Chat with 25th District Legislators

Please consider joining Sen. Bruce Dammeier, Rep. Melanie Stambaugh and me for an open house coffee meeting Saturday.

Date: Saturday, Feb. 27
Time: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Location: Puyallup Sumner Chamber office, 323 N Meridian, Puyallup, WA 98371

We look forward to seeing you there!

Keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Hans Zeiger

State Representative Hans Zeiger
25th Legislative District