Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In my last update, I discussed the House Democrat plan to raise the gas tax and other transportation fees. In this update, I'm pleased to announce that the House Transportation Committee approved my legislation to prioritize the preservation and maintenance of our state's roads and highways.
House Bill 1137 reorders the state's six transportation system policy goals, and adds resilience to the definition of stewardship in the statutes. It requires the state to perform their powers, duties and functions with preservation and safety as priorities among the state's transportation goals.
What does all of this mean? In a nutshell, it means the state is required to prioritize the preservation and maintenance of what we have now before looking ahead to the next big mega project. I've always been a believer in taking care of what you have – stewardship! As I said in my press release on this bill:
“I've always been a big believer in taking care of what you have before looking for more,” said McCaslin. “Folks on my side of the state look at gas taxes and increased fees with a very jaundiced eye as they drive around crumbling roads and highways that are, frankly, borderline unsafe.
“If you can't get goods to market, drive the speed limit safely, or maneuver a commercial vehicle on our state highways, we've got problems,” said McCaslin. “And that's the state some of our roads are in. Before we go looking at that next transportation mega project, let's take care of the infrastructure we have.”
I sponsored this bill last year and worked on it through the interim. We had great testimony in support of my bill by unions representing highway construction and maintenance workers. In this era of COVID, with people losing jobs and the economy in flux, good-paying jobs for our region are extremely important!
Funding our state's priorities with NO NEW TAXES!
House Republicans released one of the session's first budget proposals last week. We deal with the state's expected $400 million shortfall and fund our priorities of working families, students, protecting the most vulnerable, enabling small businesses to thrive, and taking care of ALL Washingtonians – and we do all of this with NO NEW OR INCREASED TAXES!
It's important to show the rest of the Legislature how this can be done. I fear that the old adage “Never let a crisis go to waste” will be used by some in Olympia as an excuse to reach further into taxpayers' pockets.
You can read a lot more about our 2021-23 operating budget proposal here. Also, here is a quick breakdown of our priorities and where we spend the money. While I may not agree on every aspect of this budget (it's impossible when the state spends so much money on so many programs), it sets the stage for a great debate on priorities and principles:
You absolutely CAN participate in this remote legislation session!
As a reminder, you are able to testify remotely or submit written testimony on any bill receiving a public hearing. For more information on how you can be involved in this remote session, click here.
Thank you for staying involved in YOUR state government. It is an absolute privilege and honor to serve you in the state House.