April 1, 2019
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Newspaper ads in Spokane, Port Angeles, Longview and Vancouver tell lawmakers: $5.6 billion in rising tax revenue is enough



Two weeks ago
, when AWB and local chambers ran full-page ads about the major increases in state tax collections, a big red arrow pointed upward with the label of $4 billion. That was how much more the state had to spend simply from increasing tax revenue due to the booming economy.

Yesterday, an updated version of the ad appeared in newspapers throughout the state. A black marker crossed out $4 billion and replaced it $5.6 billion — the additional revenue lawmakers have to budget following the latest state revenue forecast.

The ads appeared in nearly every corner of the state.

In Spokane, the full-page ad in The Spokesman-Review included language shared by several of the ads: "State lawmakers have $5,600,000,000 more tax dollars to spend on the next budget. So why are lawmakers asking for $1,400,000,000 in new taxes?"

In Vancouver, a full-page ad in The Columbian showed the city's downtown core and proclaims, "Local shops make Vancouver great. So why does Olympia want to make it cheaper to buy in Oregon by raising taxes on small businesses here?"

In Longview, The Daily News published an ad bearing the logos of AWB, the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce, as well as more than a half dozen employers and community leaders.

And in Port Angeles, situated in a corner of the state with stubbornly high unemployment, the Peninsula Daily News ran a full-page ad with the logos of AWB and the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and local employers ranging from a lumber trading firm to a networking firm and a local barbecue pub.

The editorial boards of The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver and Walla Walla Union-Bulletin have reached similar conclusions. Last week, The Columbian published an editorial calling for fiscal prudence and discipline and concluding that: "State government has all the money it needs to effectively serve the people of Washington."

A week earlier, the Union-Bulletin concluded there is no need for the Legislature to raise taxes.



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Spring Meeting
A Better Way Forward


Four reforms to rein in state spending, avoid higher taxes

By Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn

Last week, House Democrats unveiled their $53 billion state operating budget proposal for the upcoming 2019-21 biennium. Unsurprisingly, their budget dramatically increases state spending -- funded by new taxes on businesses, home sales and capital income -- proving yet again that it's easy to spend money that isn't yours.

All told, their proposal grows spending by more than $8.5 billion beyond current levels. For context, when I was first elected in 2014, the state budget spent $33.7 billion. Between economic growth and new taxes, state revenue will have increased by about 57 percent in five years.

Has your salary grown by 57 percent since 2014? Probably not, as average annual wage growth is hovering below 4 percent.

Structural issues are largely responsible for this alarming rate of budget growth. Each year, lawmakers enact all sorts of new programs and services, predicated on promises of long-term savings and improved social and health outcomes. Once enacted, these programs are almost always automatically funded in subsequent years, with virtually no oversight or review by the Legislature.

The result: spending persistently outpaces revenue, enabling our most essential services to be held hostage in exchange for new taxes.

There is a better way...

Read the full guest editorial in The Seattle Times
Facts From the Tri-Cities


Salmon and dams can coexist

By Kennewick May Don Britain; Pasco Mayor Matt Wakins; Richland Mayor Robert Thompson; and West Richland Mayor Brent Gerry

For more than 20 years. there has been an ongoing debate about the impact of the four Snake River dams on the Pacific Northwest's salmon population. Since the 1970s, billions of dollars have been spent to upgrade the dams and to improve salmon habitat.

The results? According to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the average number of returning salmon and steelhead are more than double what they were when counts first began when the Bonneville Dam started operations in 1938. Despite this clear evidence that dams and fish can coexist, the debate continues.

More recently, the struggles of the southern resident orca population have further stoked the debate. No one disagrees that the health and future of the orca population must be preserved. However, the numbers clearly show that removing the dams will not save the orcas...

Ironically, at the same time there is a push for the Washington state Legislature to fund this study on the impacts of removing the dams, there are also several bills to push for carbon reduction. If the goal in Washington is to reduce carbon, the existing clean hydropower resources play an essential role in keeping our air clean. These dams generate some of the cheapest, most reliable, carbon-free electricity in the Pacific Northwest...

Read the full guest column in The Seattle Times
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