Legislative update Representative Tom Dent
Last updated 6/14/2019 at 9:57pm
State Representative Tom Dent has provided a summary of the end of the latest legislative session:
On April 28, the last day of the regular session, the Legislature passed a new two-year operating budget. The $52.5 billion spending plan increases spending by $7.8 billion or 17.5 percent.
I did not vote for the operating budget. It is unsustainable. We have increased spending substantially over the last decade. In fact, since 2013 when Gov. Inslee came into office, spending has increased 70 percent. If we have any kind of economic downturn, like many are predicting to happen in the next 2-3 years, the Legislature will be forced to make painful cuts.
Despite record revenue growth and a $2.8 billion surplus, the majority party passed $5.5 billion in tax increases over the next four years.
Government needs transparency
The final days of the legislative session were frustrating. Title-only tax-increase bills were introduced and passed out of committee, then brought to the House floor for a vote. A “title-only” bill is a bill that contains only a title, such as “relating to tax revenue” and then the actual bill language is added after the bill is voted out of the committee. Little or no time was provided for you, the public, to weigh in during the committee process. The lawmakers in the committees barely had time to review the measures themselves.
It should also be noted that the galleries where the public can watch debate were closed and locked up during floor action on the tax bills. We were told it was due to a perceived threat. However, later we found out there was no threat.
Finally, the 808-page operating budget was not made available to the public until approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, and the Legislature passed it on Sunday night.
Odessa aquifer meeting
I recently drove to Boise to meet with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director Lorri Gray regarding the Odessa Aquifer project. The Bureau and stakeholders are working on a master service water contract that would cover 70,000 acres of water rights. The agreement would also include a water supply study to look for additional water resources. Things are progressing in a positive manner, and I am hopeful there will be a contract agreement in the near future.
My district office is now open. We are located at 326 S Cedar St., in Moses Lake. The office phone number is (509) 766-6525. I am available to speak or meet with groups, organizations and tour schools or facilities. Since the session has ended, I have participated in parades in Wilbur, Creston, Odessa and Moses Lake, done media tours and met with many constituents and organizations about issues important to them.