Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Late last month, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released the latest revenue forecast for our state. Due to an unexpected surge in new revenue, we now have a $2.4 billion budget surplus.
When we learned about this massive surplus, House Republicans immediately began working on proposals to provide tax relief for Washingtonians. On Friday, we offered two alternative budget proposals when the majority party brought their supplemental operating budget to the floor for debate. One would have provided $1 billion in tax relief and delivered the $30 car tabs voters approved in November. The other would have provided $600 million annually in property tax relief. The majority party rejected both of our efforts, opting to instead pass a budget that spends almost every dime of our $2.4 billion surplus and doesn't provide tax relief.
Their refusal to deviate from their tax-and-spend agenda is unfortunate, and it's hurting a lot of Washington families and small businesses. Keep in mind that the first bill signed into law by the governor this year was a tax increase on health care and other essential services. And when their budget proposal becomes law, spending will have increased nearly 75% since 2013. That's astounding. And unsustainable.
Sitting down for a chat with House Republican Broadcast Coordinator John Sattgast
Last week, I had an opportunity to sit down for an interview with House Republican Broadcast Coordinator John Sattgast. We had a really good conversation that covered a number of topics, including my background, my goals as a legislator, what I'd like to see the majority party do differently, and more. I hope you'll give it a listen.
Supporting Washington's small forest landowners
In my last email update, I touched on a number of bills I've sponsored this year. I'm proud to report one of those bills was unanimously approved by the House last month.
House Bill 2714 seeks to support Washington's small forest landowners in the Forestry Riparian Easement Program (FREP). The FREP allows the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to purchase a 50-year easement from small forest landowners for up to 50 percent of the value of unharvested timber left standing along the banks of rivers and other sensitive aquatic areas. In the event our state develops methods, protocols and markets for valuing carbon, my bill would provide an opportunity for small forest landowners to receive compensation for the value of the carbon stored in forest riparian easements.
HB 2714 was approved by the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee on Friday, and is now in the Senate Rules Committee.
Best practices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus
I know many of you are concerned about the coronavirus, as am I. My deepest condolences go out to those who have lost their lives, both in our state and around the world. I wanted to share some best practices with you from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) on how we can all work together to stop the spread of this virus:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with an elbow, sleeve or tissue
- Good personal health habits (diet/exercise) help prevent respiratory infections, including coronavirus and influenza.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If someone has symptoms, they should call their doctor – not go to the hospital. The doctor will make an assessment about next steps. If it requires a COVID-19 test, the doctor will then contact public health officials and they will arrange a test. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, you can call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
For more information:
- DOH coronavirus resource page: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
- CDC coronavirus information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Local public health offices around WA: https://www.doh.wa.gov/AboutUs/PublicHealthSystem/LocalHealthJurisdictions
How to contact me
Please continue contacting me with any comments, questions or concerns you have. My phone number here in Olympia is (360) 786-7812, and my email address is Larry.Hoff@leg.wa.gov.
It is an honor to serve you.