With just a little more than a month to go of the 2013 regular session, your support, attention and activism toward passage of legislation to advance The Freedom Agenda is more important than ever. Last week, the state released its revenue forecast. Some will present the figures in a way to bolster their argument for tax increases. We will counter with this fact: state government is expected to collect $2 billion MORE in the coming budget cycle than the current one. With so much more money coming in to the state, there is no legitimate reason to raise taxes, except to grow government and reduce your freedoms. We need a balanced budget! And we need to ensure taxpayer money is not going to organizations involved with fraud.
Let me leave you with these words of wisdom from the late Pastor Adrian Rogers in his 1984 sermon, God's Way to Health, Wealth and Wisdom:
“Friend, you cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. And what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government can't give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody. And when half of the people get the idea they don't have to work because the other half's going to take care of them, and when the other half get the idea it does no good to work because somebody's going to get what I work for. That, dear friend, is about the end of any nation.”
Please join with me to ensure lower taxes, less government and more freedom! Contact my office if you have questions, comments, or suggestions. My phone number, e-mail address and other contact information is at the bottom of this newsletter.
Freedom Agenda bills advance
Thanks to your efforts and support, several of our Freedom Agenda bills are moving forward. Here's a quick update:
- Conversion kits on motorcycles – House Bill 1334 – would allow disabled veterans and other riders requiring additional stability the opportunity to place stabilizing conversion kits on motorcycles, giving them the freedom to enjoy motorcycle riding. The kits have been in production for at least 15 years. The measure passed the House unanimously on Monday, Feb. 25. It passed from the Senate Transportation Committee last Wednesday, and is now in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting floor action.
- Fresh water docks – House Bill 1090 – would clarify the law as to multiple fresh water dock construction within a five-year period. The measure passed the House on March 9. It is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Parks this Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
- Restricting taxpayer-funded lobbyists – House Bill 1093 – would impose a penalty of $100 per statement on a state agency director who knowingly fails to file lobbyist disclosure statements. It would also establish penalties against any state agency official, officer, or employee who is responsible for or knowingly spends public funds in violation of lobbyist restrictions. This measure passed the House on March 4. A hearing was held last Tuesday in the Senate Governmental Operations Committee. The bill is now awaiting executive committee action.
- Legalizing industrial hemp – House Bill 1888 – would authorize the Department of Agriculture to issue licenses for the growing of industrial hemp. Since this measure would have a massive positive impact on our state's economy and the state budget, this bill is exempt from the cutoff dates because it would be necessary to implement the budget. I received information this afternoon that a hearing will soon be held in the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government.
- Constitutional use of drones – House Bill 1771 – would require state agencies to receive approval from the Legislature before using drones. Permission would be required from a local governing body before local law enforcement agencies could use drones. I remain very concerned that the use of drones by regulatory agencies could be detrimental against farms and businesses in Washington. The measure passed the House Public Safety Committee on Feb. 21.
Revenue forecast flat, but state is still taking in an additional $2 billion
Last week, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its quarterly revenue forecast for the 2011-13 biennium and the 2013-15 biennium. The forecast shows an increase of nearly $59 million through the remainder of this budget cycle, which ends June 30. The council is projecting a $19 million decrease for the 2013-15 biennium, primarily due to federal sequestration reductions and reinstatement of the federal payroll tax.
While the news media is concentrating on a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, here's a figure they're not telling you: $2 billion. That's the increase of revenue expected over and above the current budget year. In other words, the state will be taking in $2 billion more in the coming budget cycle than the previous one.
The state's economy remains fragile, largely due to uncertainty created by the prospect of taxes and larger government budgets. We are reminded as we look at the global scale that the economy is largely driven by psychology. The banking crisis in Cyprus underscores the need for our fiscal house at the state level to be in order. The shaking of consumer confidence can have direct and tangible consequences on our economy. It's time to abandon all consideration of tax increases and create a budget within EXISTING revenues that prioritizes spending. Truly now, we need the Freedom Agenda bill, House Joint Resolution 4203, requiring a balanced budget.
The bottom line is that there is enough money to pay for essential services and balance the state's operating budget WITHOUT tax increases. The revenue forecast showed us while the economy is showing some signs of recovery, it is still very fragile. Tax increases could wipe out the ability for the economy to recover any time soon.
Telephone town hall draws thousands
I want to thank all of you who joined with me last Wednesday evening for a telephone town hall meeting. More than 4,000 people came on the line during the hour-long event.
During the event, I asked three survey questions. Here are the questions and the results:
1. Do you support universal background checks on gun sales – even private sales of all guns?
YES – 19 percent
NO – 66 percent
NOT SURE – 15 percent
2. House Democrats have proposed a 10-cent increase for each gallon of gas you purchase. Would you be willing to pay 10 cents more a gallon to help pay for transportation projects in the state?
YES – 7 percent
NO – 92 percent
NOT SURE – 1 percent
3. Do you support Fund Education First legislation which would require the Legislature to pass a separate, stand-alone K-12 education budget before any other state appropriations?
YES – 51 percent
NO – 21 percent
NOT SURE – 28 percent
This week's 'Bad Bill'
In each e-mail update throughout the session, I will be featuring a “Bad Bill.” Here is another anti-freedom, job-killing measure:
HOUSE BILL 1817 – would expand the State Need Grant to illegal aliens. The State Need Grant provides tuition assistance for eligible low-income students. It has been known as the “Dream Act,” because it is meant to give disadvantaged students an opportunity to achieve their dreams. However, this expansion would turn this program into the “Nightmare Act,” because it would make students who are legal citizens compete with ILLEGAL residents for the same dollars. We already have 30,000 students who meet the eligibility for the grant and cannot be accommodated. Why would we expand this program for illegal aliens when we can't take care of our legal citizens?
This is a very bad bill because it would expand government, provide a false promise, implement an unfunded mandate, and on top of that, it's a slap in the face to those legal students who qualify, but could be denied because they have to compete even harder for these limited dollars.