Washington lawmakers discuss tax breaks and roadblocks | Local
9th District state lawmakers are preparing for a 60-day session in Olympia in hopes of repealing the long-term care tax, protecting dams on the lower Snake River and give tax relief to their constituents in eastern Washington.
Senator Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, Representative Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, and Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, presented their programs Tuesday at a legislative farewell luncheon in Clarkston hosted by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Schoesler, who has represented the region for three decades, said the state was in fairly good budgetary shape, but there were “a few pigs at the trough.” With billions of dollars in reserves, it’s time to cut some taxes, he said.
Schmick, who was first elected in 2007, said the state was on track to have an estimated $ 8.8 billion operating budget surplus over the next four years. additional dollars in unspent federal stimulus funds and $ 1.2 billion in the state’s rainy day account.
“It is high time to give money back to the taxpayers,” he said. “We have more than enough.”
Cell phone taxes are an example of the state collecting far more than it needs, Schmick said. Another possibility which deserves to be studied is the reduction of the property tax.
Schmick, the top Republican on the House Health Care and Welfare Committee, and Representative Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, drafted a bill to repeal the new long-term care law. If Democrats don’t agree to the repeal, Schmick will also have legislation to address some of the plan’s structural problems.
âMy Bill puts lipstick on a pig,â and makes it more affordable, he said.
Schoesler has already tabled a bill that would explore private market alternatives to the new program, which is backed by a payroll tax due to go into effect on January 1.
Dye, the Republican ranked on the House Environment and Energy committee, focuses on her outdoor recreation and climate adaptation plan that would eliminate the state’s Discovery Pass , reduce state park fees, provide money for new parks, and resolve the growing backlog of park maintenance. needs and pay for a variety of healthy forest initiatives and restoration projects in Puget Sound.
âIf you have to book a campsite for your family a year in advance, something is wrong,â she said.
The three lawmakers spoke of the importance of dams as a source of energy, rather than relying on wind turbines, solar panels and other forms of “green energy.”
âAny of these four lower Snake River dams can feed Seattle, just to put things in perspective,â Schmick said.
Another challenge in Olympia is the urban versus rural mentality. Often times, eastern Washington’s interests are not high on the state’s priority list, 9th District lawmakers said. They encouraged residents to speak out, attend online hearings, and share personal stories about how the proposed legislation affects them.
âOur small towns’ biggest export is our children,â Dye said. âWith COVID, we’ve learned that people can work from anywhere, and we’re seeing more and more people choosing smaller cities and going against the big city trend, because that’s more fun to live there. It’s important to bring new energy back to rural areas, instead of the same five people doing everything. “
Several people at the lunch spoke about the labor shortage, especially for jobs costing $ 15 to $ 20 an hour. Finding employees to fill vacancies and access to affordable housing and child care services are major issues statewide, Schoesler said. He has been looking for someone to work permanently on his farm for 18 months.
Child care centers are so heavily regulated in Washington that “the fastest growing business in eastern Washington is illegal child care centers,” Schmick said. This is one of the reasons why companies that offer childcare services, like SEL, are so attractive.
The Washington session begins on January 10.