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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are quickly approaching the conclusion of the 105-day session which is scheduled to end on April 28. We just passed our final policy committee cutoff date on April 3, and now it is time for the legislature to focus on the three major budgets (transportation, capital and general operating). If you would like more information on the budget (and to view budget documents) please visit the Washington LEAP Website.
My top priorities include creating jobs and investing in our future by supporting and fully funding education. Negotiations on the various budget proposals have just started. I look forward to bringing your ideas and thoughts to the table.
The House Republicans were first to create a 'fund education first' budget that proposes to allocate an additional $550 million towards basic education, thus fulfilling our paramount duty as mandated by the state supreme court McCleary decision. Yesterday, the Senate Majority Coalition released a budget that would allocate an additional $1 billion dollars towards basic education – also without raising taxes.
The governor announced a “budget priorities outline” last week which relies strongly on increasing taxes. The outline includes a 50 cent-per-gallon beer tax that would target micro-breweries ($127.6 million), limits for car trade-in exemptions ($94.8 million), and ending other exemptions which total $1.2 billion in tax increases.
You can view a full list of the governor's proposed taxes here. My strong view is that targeting select small businesses for tax increases while giving breaks to other select favored types of businesses may harm job creation, harm Washington consumers and is not fair. Please feel free to read and compare the different versions of the budgets by clicking here. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on any of these proposals.
In my recent video update I addressed the issue of creating jobs and discussed how our three town hall meetings went. I was happy to get the opportunity to speak one-on-one to the citizens of Federal Way, Milton and Algona. I was pleased that my seatmate, Rep. Roger Freeman, was able to join me in Federal Way and Milton. The meetings were well attended, and we discussed a wide range of issues including education, transportation, priority projects, environmental concerns, jobs and many others issues. I encourage you to view my video by clicking here.
I'm very happy to have had several guests come to Olympia recently including students from Camelot Elementary School, Sunnycrest Elementary School and the Business Law Class from Todd Beamer High. In the picture to the right you can see the students from Camelot Elementary School. You can also see pictures of other guests I've hosted recently and the latest pages I've sponsored by clicking here to visit my Flicker page.
I was proud to have my granddaughter Olivia Weinberger and Lucas Logan serve as pages in March. Both are students at Federal Way High School. During their week in Olympia they attended page school every day to better understand the operations and actions of the Legislature while performing other essential tasks for members and staff. Olivia and Lucas gained a lot from the program and have the potential to use this experience to broaden their horizons. If you are interested in learning more about the Legislative Page Program contact my office or click here.
Welcome Home for our Vets
On my photo page you can also see photos of the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event that I participated in. During the event we honored those who returned from the war many years ago and were not given the hero's welcome they deserved. March 30, 2013 was the 38th anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War. For many of us it was very moving to finally see these soldiers commended and given the full honor they are entitled to. My fellow legislators and I read a proclamation from the governor and the House dedicated to all Vietnam soldiers both living and memorialized. You can read the full resolution here.
In closing, please remember my door is always open. My goals are to keep our communities safe, make government more efficient, create jobs and improve our quality of life. If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (360) 786-7898, or e-mail me at Linda.Kochmar@leg.wa.gov.
Please pass along this e-mail to others you think would be interested. They can sign up for my updates by clicking here. I look forward to hearing from you.
122F Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7898 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000