Rep. Bob McCaslin | The 2020 legislative session theme: It’s your home. Expect more.
Someone recently asked if I had a theme for this year's legislative session. “As a matter of fact, I do!” I said.
“It's your home. Expect more.”
For many residents around our region, living in their homes has become unsafe and unaffordable as they struggle to understand a state government that seems – on its best days – unaccountable, and sometimes downright unconcerned.
Chronic homelessness has increased by about 240 percent in the last three years while Olympia's solutions are providing safe drug injections sites and spending more taxpayer dollars. Childcare has skyrocketed by almost $2,000 per year, median home prices across the state continue to go up, and our state gas tax remains one of the highest in the nation.
We have a governor who bounces from one environmental scheme after another, seemingly ignoring the drastic cost increases they would bring to every Washingtonian. In addition, state government is suffering from data breaches, foster care mismanagement, and the early release of dangerous criminals by the Department of Corrections.
While many families continue to struggle with the rising costs of homeownership, childcare and transportation, some in Olympia continue to want more of your hard-earned money. We are seeing proposals for new and increased taxes, including a state income tax, something the voters of this state have rejected time and time again.
However, many of my colleagues and I have a different idea of how things should be.
We need to support law enforcement as they try to clean up our streets and allow them to enforce existing laws. We also need to stop enabling destructive behavior and start expecting accountability from those who seek services. We can still help people get clean, get treatment, and get shelter while helping them better their lives in the long run.
We also need to make living in our state – our homes – more affordable. To that end, I'm introducing House Bill 2284. This bill will allow daycare providers more flexibility when satisfying education requirements for their professional licensure.
As daycare providers struggle with increases in minimum wage, continuing regulations, and reimbursement rates from the state that are nowhere near the costs of providing care, more and more have decided to close their doors and go out of business. This lack of options and access only increases the competition for available facilities and drives costs higher for parents. My bill will help providers keep costs down by giving them more options when meeting their mandatory education requirements.
I'm also sponsoring legislation to make the maintenance and preservation of our roads a priority with the Washington State Department of Transportation's (WSDOT) planning process.
House Bill 2285 would prioritize our existing transportation infrastructure without raising taxes, increasing fees or disingenuously moving money around the various transportation programs. If we make preservation and maintenance a priority in the planning process, we can begin to address the backlog we have in maintaining existing roads. We are near a crisis point, but raising taxes is not the answer.
I also believe we should eliminate the practice of title-only bills, end closed-door negotiations, and get back to results-based budgeting. We need to ask if this program or that project is still yielding its intended benefit to the public, rather than just assuming it is and continually funding it each year in the budget. A business can't operate like that; why should the state?
And finally, we should allow basic law enforcement training here in eastern Washington. Currently, law enforcement agencies must send their prospective officers to the west side of the state to receive training. All the while paying for hotels, food, gas – not to mention the time away from home and the communities they'll be serving.
House Bill 2538 would allow for training in eastern Washington. I believe an innovative plan like this will allow law enforcement officers to have more connection to the communities in which they serve and will reduce costs for all involved.
This session is a quick, 60-day session. There is much to do and very little time to do it. If you have comments or suggestions on how we can make living in your home safer and more affordable, or how we can make state government more accountable, please reach out to me with an email or phone call. It is an honor to serve you in Olympia.
(Rep. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley, represents the 4th Legislative District. He is the assistant ranking member on both the House Education committee and the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee and is a retired teacher.)