Ensuring A Balanced Budget
We have entered a period of extreme volatility in the state’s revenue picture. Spending in the 2011-13 declined significantly from the previous two biennia and currently (as of mid-July 2011) is not on track to meet even our declining expectations. This was the first budget I was responsible for as chairman of the House budget committee and it was a daunting project. It’s our constitutional requirement to produce a balanced budget, and we did so with relatively little drama and with no significant budget gimmicks. We were able to reach a bi-partisan agreement with the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, though the House Republicans declined to participate in the budget process.
As we look forward to the interim work we will do to track our budget and to the 2013-15 budget it’s my job to balance relative spending priorities and the appropriate balance between low taxes and services that enable the economy to perform.
2011 Budget Handout (PDF 609 KB)
Creating new high-quality jobs and preserving the jobs we have has to be the key part of any legislator’s strategy in Olympia. I propose focusing on growing sectors that require a highly-educated workforce and pay well. For more details read my Jobs Strategy document.
Championing Our Schools
We have re-written the (formerly) incomprehensible school funding formulas to produce an education budget that can be understood at both the state and local levels, including a constitutionally-enforceable step-up in funding over the next 8 years that will get us to a rational level of funding. I drove this effort.
Click here for a comprehensive strategy for our education system.
Getting 520 Built On-Time And On-Budget
This was a decade in the making when I started in Olympia and has been incredibly painful to get done. By sticking together the Eastside delegation forced a reasonable solution to this problem, and worked out the politics to make it happen. We overcame significant opposition from powerful interests that do not want a solution to the problem. We have more work to do on funding, but have approval for the floating part and the Eastside projects to start next year. This alone will create thousands of private industry construction jobs over the next few years.
As is clear to anyone driving across the bridge today, the construction project has started on the Eastside. We are making real progress and have a lot more work to do. The tolling technology and operation continues to fail to meet development deadlines and is a painful risk, as the tolls are necessary to pay for the bridge.
Protecting Our Quality Of Life
Our quality of life is the reason so many of us live in the Pacific Northwest. I have been excited to be part of significant environmental wins, including driving the effort to be the first state to ban brominated flame-retardants, chemicals known to cause endocrine damage to small children. As a result the Washington Conservation Voters named me one of their “Green Champions” this year.