Leadership Blog

 

 

Inslee blows the call on taxpayer-subsidized security

Published on July 03, 2019
Two years ago this week, Democrat and Republican lawmakers joined to pass one of the most important tax-fairness bills I’ve seen. SB 5977 would have reduced the B&O tax on all manufacturing to match the lower rate extended to aerospace in 2013. I say “would have” because days later Governor Inslee caved to political pressure... Read More

Diverse enrollments conflict with claims about law targeted by I-1000

Published on April 27, 2019
Republicans don’t control the Senate’s agenda, so what happens with Initiative 1000 is not our call. I do want to be prepared if it comes up for a vote before the session ends, so we’ve had people from both sides of the issue visit our caucus to explain their positions and answer questions. The April... Read More

The mugging of the taxpayers

Published on April 10, 2019
Governor Inslee recently engaged in an amazing bit of revisionist history about his role in negotiating a reduction in tax rates for Washington’s aerospace industry. Back in November 2013 he called the agreement “great news for every Washingtonian.” Now, maybe to appeal to the far-left Sanders-Sawant crowd, he compares the negotiations to being mugged. If... Read More

The taxes are coming! The taxes are coming!

Published on March 04, 2019
I’ve never seen state government in such good financial shape when the Legislature is needing to adopt a new two-year budget. The Senate and House shouldn’t have any problem coming up with a no-new-taxes budget that is good for mental-health services, and special-education services, which seem to be at the top of the list of... Read More

Keep the bright line between ‘legislative’ and ‘campaign’

Published on February 28, 2019
Senate Bill 5270 reminds me of the George Santayana quote about how people who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it. The bill, before the Rules committee, would crack open a campaign-funding door that has been closed since 1992, after a scandal that shook the Legislature to its ethical core. For that reason... Read More

Inslee misses deadline for releasing real budget – and why that budget is the real story

Published on December 21, 2018
The orcas won’t want to hear this, but the $54 billion budget Governor Inslee brought out last week is not the proposal he was required to submit to the Legislature. Under a state law dating to at least 1959, the governor is to provide a budget document based on “the estimated revenues and caseloads as... Read More

When it comes to taxes and spending, is Inslee insatiable?

Published on December 14, 2018
Governor Inslee had included tax increases in all six budgets he’d submitted to the Legislature during his time in office. I figured he was a lock to make it 7-for-7, in the proposal he’d be putting on the table for 2019. Even so, I was amazed by what the governor unveiled yesterday. He’d spend $54... Read More

Robust packages of Republican ideas

Published on November 30, 2018
Way back on October 3, three of my fellow Republican senators publicly announced a package of ideas for improving how state government approaches mental-health treatment. On Wednesday, the Senate’s Democrat majority announced the creation of a policy subcommittee on behavioral health. On November 13, three of my fellow Republican senators publicly announced a package of... Read More

Repeal of Seattle jobs tax makes a statewide ban simpler

Published on June 12, 2018
The rapid demise of the Seattle jobs tax doesn’t change the need for the bill I’d drafted that would clearly prohibit a tax on jobs (or a “head tax”) unless the necessary taxing authority is explicitly granted by the Legislature. My bill is still needed because the Seattle City Council’s turnaround was not due to... Read More

The appearance of impartiality, and chasing the golden geese

Published on April 26, 2018
— April 26, 2018 Suppose some proud member of Cougar Nation tweeted a photo of a guy on stage at a WSU football rally the night before the Apple Cup game. Then someone recognized the person as being not only a Pac-12 referee, but part of the crew that would be officiating at the WSU-UW... Read More

Toward an honest conversation about preventing suicide

Published on February 12, 2018
— February 12, 2018 As someone who values our Second Amendment rights I am very cautious about bills that include the words “firearm rights” in the title. But a few weeks ago I helped pass a carefully negotiated bill that would allow people to voluntarily waive their firearm rights in the interests of preventing suicide... Read More

The ‘Olympia Games’: Quantity doesn’t mean quality

Published on February 07, 2018
I’m not a big watcher of the winter Olympic Games, which are upon us again, but I do know that most of the events are scored or judged in terms of more points and less time elapsed. Here at the winter Olympia Games, the Senate’s new majority hopes to score points by saying it has... Read More

Sure, Inslee’s energy tax would change the climate. But which climate?

Published on January 25, 2018
— Jan. 25, 2018 Governor Inslee jetted off this week to the Swiss Alps, to talk about the climate. It was interesting how he described the energy tax he wants to impose on the folks back home – what he called “America’s first carbon tax.” Inslee’s energy tax would undoubtedly change the climate. Meaning the... Read More

Reason to worry about the balanced-budget law

Published on December 01, 2017
One-party rule returned to Olympia this week after the November general election results were certified, giving Democrats control of the Senate for 2018. I hope this doesn’t mean the end for Washington’s unique 4-year balanced-budget law, adopted in 2012. We knew the law would protect taxpayers, but it’s also helpful to social-service organizations and other... Read More

‘I just wanted to express myself’

Published on August 24, 2017
This must have been the week for calls from people who were transferred to my Senate office by “robo-calls”. One wave of callers seemed to be prompted by a robo-call about money for state lands and public-recreation projects. The funding is in the proposed capital budget, which should be approved soon after we agree on... Read More

House Democrats tip their hand on Hirst

Published on July 28, 2017
With two days to go in the Legislature’s third overtime session, I thought we had a good shot at wrapping things up on a positive note. Senate and House negotiators had verbally agreed on a final capital budget, and House Democrats had received another offer that would permanently solve the situation caused by the Hirst... Read More

Some parting thoughts with the Capitol in the rearview mirror

Published on July 21, 2017
The speaker of the House is known for holing up in his office, and as the 2017 legislative session fizzled to a strange end yesterday, the news media took note of that more than usual. One journalist reported how Speaker Frank Chopp hadn’t spoken with reporters all week about the two things that I hoped... Read More

Work continues, but what a day June 30 was

Published on July 01, 2017
The drive home to Adams County today gave me time to reflect on the magnitude of what the Legislature accomplished yesterday. It was something. A new operating budget is always a heavy lift by itself, but the 2017-19 budget had to dovetail with the school-funding reforms that represented five years of collective effort (more for... Read More

A generational solution that puts students, hard-working taxpayers first

Published on June 30, 2017
I’m reminded today how more than seven years ago, a group of Republican senators proposed a way to significantly increase state funding for public schools and in turn take the pressure off local school districts to come up with money for basic education. I was a co-sponsor of that landmark plan, introduced by former Senator... Read More

Former governor Spellman on education: Constitution, conscience, and common sense

Published on June 22, 2017
John Spellman honored me with a visit yesterday. It’s been a while since our previous time together, but Washington’s 18th governor, at age 90, is as sharp and inquisitive as I remembered. In 12 years as King County executive and four years as governor, he accomplished much, as his “Legacy Washington” story explains. However, the... Read More

Budget talks continue…and so does the spin

Published on June 12, 2017
The former FBI director spoke last week about the challenge posed by media coverage of sensitive topics involving classified information. Because officials who know the details aren’t inclined to talk to reporters, he told a Senate committee, they have to “leave it” when reports are off-target. Budget negotiations in Olympia (which have been going since... Read More

The state’s ‘commitment to tolerance’ gets a test at Evergreen

Published on May 31, 2017
Jerry Kulm graduated from Ritzville High School in 1967, the same year legislators in Olympia decided to create what would be the first four-year college in southwest Washington. He died serving in the 101st Airborne in Vietnam in 1970, a year before classes began at that new institution – The Evergreen State College, here in... Read More

Don’t be taken in by the spin – legislators are negotiating

Published on May 22, 2017
Democrat lawmakers still are trying to convince anyone within earshot that our Senate majority is boycotting negotiations toward a new operating budget. For instance, the Senate’s minority-caucus chair recently wrote that Democrats are “ready to sit down at the table.” Right after accusing our Senate majority of employing “alternative facts.” A few days earlier the... Read More

Busting the Democrats’ myth about ‘Connecting Washington’

Published on May 18, 2017
All year long Democrat lawmakers have mentioned the “Connecting Washington” transportation package of 2015 when talking about reaching major agreements this year. For the longest time that didn’t make sense. There wouldn’t have been a 2015 package if Democrats hadn’t fumbled the first try in 2013. Why keep bringing it up? Now it’s clear. Democrats... Read More

House majority plan would have King County property owners pay more

Published on May 18, 2017
My Democratic counterparts in the House criticize how our Senate majority’s education-funding reforms, and the budget proposal which supports them, would keep property taxes as the primary source of support for schools. They claim a property tax “is indiscriminate, hitting rich and poor people alike – and disproportionately hitting certain districts, especially in the Puget... Read More

School administrators look to Goebbels, Lenin for advice?

Published on May 05, 2017
Wearing a T-shirt with an image of a prominent Nazi war criminal might be enough to get a student sent home. But the Washington Association of School Administrators thinks it is OK to share public-relations advice from a prominent Nazi war criminal if you’re trying to get school administrators to be effective advocates. The Washington... Read More

Democrats get touchy when someone else touches their tax ideas

Published on April 28, 2017
I don’t remember the governor saying a thing earlier this month when the House Finance Committee had a public hearing on the smorgasbord of taxes in House Bill 2186. But he declared it a waste of time for our Ways and Means Committee to have a public hearing this week on Senate Bill 5929, which... Read More

Democrat excuses for delaying Hirst fix don’t hold water

Published on April 11, 2017
This past week the House majority and the governor admitted they are in no rush to find a remedy for the Supreme Court’s Hirst decision. House Democrat leaders said they’d address Hirst in “negotiations.” Governor Inslee calls Hirst a “distraction” from work to reform the K-12 funding system. Those excuses are full of holes. After... Read More

Fix Hirst ruling while work toward McCleary agreement continues

Published on February 10, 2017
It obviously has not been easy for lawmakers to come up with legislation that fixes the constitutional issue about school levies raised in the McCleary ruling, treats students and taxpayers in 295 diverse districts equitably and responds to long-standing compensation concerns from teachers and district officials. If it was, the Education Equality Act passed by... Read More

Our K-12 plan will be out soon, then we can get this job done

Published on January 18, 2017
This week Republican legislative leaders had their first meeting of the session with statehouse reporters. As expected the press corps asked first about education funding – including, when will they see a plan from Republicans to fully fund our K-12 schools? A freelance writer wondered whether the plan would come in a week or two,... Read More

Without Dr. King, could we have had Dr. Floyd?

Published on January 16, 2017
As we reflect today on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he meant to our country, I think about another distinguished African-American leader: my late friend Dr. Elson Floyd, the former Washington State University president who lost his battle with cancer in June 2015. The “Big Coug” and I didn’t spend a lot of... Read More

Senators: Thank you for your service

Published on January 03, 2017
Legislators leave office for a variety of reasons, and the when and how of their exits generally dictates our options for saying farewell. Sometimes an announcement comes during a session, which allows us to respond in person; otherwise it happens later in the year, and that opportunity is lost. We learned during the 2016 session... Read More

How far will governor go to keep a great teacher in the classroom?

Published on December 21, 2016
According to Governor Inslee, state government has an “obligation” to pour many more billions of dollars into Washington’s K-12 schools. That’s on top of the additional billions budgeted by the Legislature for basic education in the past four years. “In this day and age, we owe our kids and parents more,” the governor declared on... Read More

Reflections as our Senate majority coalition enters its fifth year

Published on December 09, 2016
My former Senate colleague, Ed Murray, made a dire prediction ahead of the formation of our Senate Majority Coalition Caucus four years ago. In an interview with TVW, the now-Seattle mayor predicted that if two Democrats (Senator Tim Sheldon and former Senator Rodney Tom) joined with the Senate’s Republican members to form a new Senate... Read More