Felons, bicycle buffers more important than budget?

Families are struggling, employers are closing their doors, Washington’s unemployment rate is 8.4 percent and the state’s spending problem has created a deficit of $9 billion. Considering these critical factors, I wonder why bicycle buffers and giving felons the right to vote before they pay restitution to their victims are taking center stage above the state budget.

I have people back at home wondering what the heck we are doing in Olympia. Apparently, we have time to pass 429 bills in the House, but despite the dire warnings that our economy is slipping and our budget is in a free-fall, we have not put the budget and solving the fiscal crisis at the top of our priority list.

The recent revenue forecast projects a $9 billion gap in what majority Democrats would like to spend and the tax dollars coming into the state. In the last four years, state spending has increased by 33 percent, double the rate of tax collections. Last year, we minority Republicans forewarned the majority party their overspending would drive the state budget into the ditch.

House Republicans were sounding the alarm for good reason. I believe bicycle buffer bills and others of little importance are distractions to divert the public’s attention away from the majority’s mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.

Democrats’ priorities are out of line with folks living in the real world. We need to put first things first, which should be the budget. It’s time the Legislature roll up its sleeves and get to work, just like small employers and families are doing right now to stay afloat.

I am disappointed with the major disconnect between how the majority in Olympia wants to solve the budget mess and the solutions citizens expect.

The only solution leaders in Olympia can find are tax hikes on families to bailout their overspending. In my view, that’s waiving the white flag and telling folks they’re not willing to take this opportunity to show leadership, to make tough decisions and have thick skin.

Constituents have told me that a government bailout through new or higher taxes is not acceptable, and I agree. Raising taxes now would be a disaster.

Meanwhile, instead of having a healthy debate on fixing the spending problems in Olympia, we’re putting felons ahead of victims and bike buffers before budgets.

State Representative Joel Kretz, 7th Legislative District
425A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7988 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000