Dear friends and neighbors:
I have three main priorities for the legislative session that began Monday.
First and foremost, I am helping to develop a transportation revenue package that will, among other things, provide the funds to finish Highway 18 without raising the gas tax. As the serious head-on collision earlier this week has reaffirmed for our community, this deadly highway needs be improved as soon as possible. We need a new revenue package to make sure our transportation system is able to remain functional as more people move to our region; doing nothing will guarantee gridlock and misery as we try to commute to work for the next decade. As a member of the legislative negotiating team, I’ll be insisting on a package that does not require any increase in the gas tax and relies instead on surpluses in the operating budget and new federal transportation support.
My second priority this session is to continue my efforts to ensure kids are financially literate when they leave school. This bill would be the largest investment our state has ever made to make sure that kids learn financial literacy skills before they graduate. I have heard from many people who regret they were not taught about finances before they went to college and were asked to make important financial decisions that impact their lives for many years afterwards.
My third major priority is simple but important. I want to make sure that any surplus revenue in the state budget is allocated to one-time projects, not new programs or services that would create a permanent wave of additional spending. A surplus, while welcome, is a temporary influx of money during good times that will dry up during lean years. That’s one reason a transportation package is a smart use for surplus funds: it’s made up of projects that we can complete in the short term but which will continue to deliver benefits in the long run. We should also be saving some of the surplus in our Rainy Day Fund.
On a more personal note, my first day of session began with a positive test for COVID. I arrived at the Capitol, where every lawmaker is tested before they are allowed inside, and had to get back in my car and drive back home. Fortunately, the Legislature is still set up to work remotely, as we did last session, so the virus won’t interfere with my ability to do my job representing our district. I’m not suffering any symptoms, thanks to having gotten my vaccinations and a booster, which is important not just for our individual health but to keep our hospital system from being overwhelmed by people with more severe infections. I plan to be back in Olympia as soon as my quarantine ends and I test negative.
Take care and stay safe,