Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Tuesday, the four senior Republican members on the House Appropriations Committee held a press conference to unveil the 2021-23 House Republican operating budget proposal. It stands in stark contrast to the governor's proposal, which would unnecessarily grow government and raise taxes.
Our plan would fund all of our state's needs and priorities without raising taxes or cutting vital services. We would fund the working families tax credit for the first time in its 12-year history, provide sales tax exemptions for basic necessities, help low-income families defray the cost of remote learning, safely reopen our schools, take bold steps to actually solve the homelessness crisis, make critical investments in behavioral health, provide B&O tax relief for our small businesses, and more. At the same time, we would reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, fix inefficiencies in government, eliminate programs that aren't working, and replace bad policies with better ones.
It's a budget that aligns perfectly with our priorities as a caucus to safely reopen schools and businesses, oppose new taxes and fees, hold the governor and state agencies accountable, and protect our communities.
House passes two COVID relief bills
Since my last update, the House has passed two COVID relief bills.
Senate Bill 5061, which was signed into law by the governor earlier this month, will limit the massive unemployment insurance tax increases businesses are facing. That's important, but I believe we should have done more to provide relief for our job creators. House Republicans offered three amendments to do so.
- Amendment 20, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Vick, would have suspended all unemployment insurance tax increases until the governor's termination of the current state of emergency.
- Amendment 21, sponsored by Rep. Larry Hoff, would have allowed business owners to defer unemployment insurance tax payments for two quarters.
- Amendment 22, sponsored by Rep. Drew MacEwen, would have authorized a one-time $500 million transfer from the state's rainy-day fund to the unemployment trust fund, which has been depleted as a result of the pandemic and last year's $600 million theft by foreign fraudsters. Currently, our small business owners are on the hook to replenish that fund. That's wrong.
Unfortunately, all three amendments were rejected.
The other COVID relief bill that came to the floor was House Bill 1368. While Rep. Drew Stokesbary's REAL Recovery for Washington Act would have provided $4 billion in relief, the majority's HB 1368 is set to provide roughly half that amount. You can review a comparison of the proposals here.
House Republicans again offered a number of amendments that would have taken bold steps to safely reopen schools, assist students who have fallen behind, provide rental and utility assistance, ease financial burdens on working families, help child care providers, and support small businesses. All but one of our amendments was rejected.
House Appropriations Committee approves my manufacturing jobs bill
A bill I've sponsored to double the number of manufacturing jobs in our state by 2031 was unanimously approved by the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week.
House Bill 1170, the Building Economic Strength Through Manufacturing (BEST) Act, would provide a framework for the state to add 300,000 new manufacturing jobs over the next 10 years. The bill also seeks to double the number of small manufacturing firms and the number of women- and minority-owned manufacturing firms in Washington.
Rebuilding our economy and revitalizing struggling communities around the state is going to take a multifaceted approach focused on real solutions. My goal with House Bill 1170 is to unite business, unions, and the building trades around one specific vision: that Washington be the best place in the world to make things. I know we can achieve the goals laid out in the bill, and appreciate the support it's received from members on both sides of the aisle. I look forward to continuing to advocate for its passage as it moves through the legislative process.
Following the latest data breach, it's clear we must take a different approach to cybersecurity
Earlier this month, I joined the Lars Larson Show to discuss the latest statewide breach that exposed the personal data of at least 1.4 million Washingtonians who filed for unemployment last year.
What's abundantly clear is that our state needs to modernize it software systems and implement stricter accountability measures to stop these breaches from happening. As I told The Seattle Times, our state agencies are simply being too lazy when it comes to cybersecurity. It's unacceptable and needs to change.
Contacting me and staying involved in the legislative process
Please continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and concerns. My email address is Matt.Boehnke@leg.wa.gov, and my district office number is (509) 315-2315.
I also encourage you to stay involved in the legislative process by following House Republicans on Twitter and Facebook, visiting The Ledger, and utilizing the resources listed in this document. Finally, please bookmark my legislative website, where you can find my latest press releases, video updates, interviews, and more.
Until next time, stay safe and take care.