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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Correspondence with the Political Class

Today I received mail from Rep. Jaime Pedersen expressing his concern for education in this state, but his inability to ensure it's protection.  I responded with a challenge that may take a while to have meet.    Both are below.


Dear Mr. Drake --

Thanks for your message and for your advocacy for ending tax breaks to support public education, our paramount duty. I am a co-sponsor of HB 2078 and hope that I will have a chance to vote for it on the House floor before the end of session. As the father of four young kids, I am strongly interested in preserving smaller class sizes for early grades.

Last year, I was proud to vote to suspend Initiative 960 (which required a 2/3 vote in the legislature to increase taxes or repeal tax loopholes) and to vote for a bill that repealed a variety of tax exemptions and increased several taxes to avoid an all-cuts budget. That bill was not as broad as I would have liked (for example, it did not repeal the longstanding B&O tax exemption for banks on their interest income from first mortgages, which is the tax break that would be repealed by HB 2078), but it did raise nearly $800 million for the 2009-11 biennium and nearly $2 billion for the 2011-13 biennium. But for that bill, our shortfall would be much worse.

Then came the 2010 elections. The voters soundly rejected I-1098 (the income tax initiative, which I endorsed and voted for), approved I-1107 (which repealed taxes on candy, soda, and bottled water I mentioned above), and approved I-1053 (which requires a 2/3 majority to increase taxes). The Democrats also returned with smaller majorities in the House and Senate. The net effect is that we have no ability to increase revenue unless we can convince the voters to agree. Realistically, we will not have a 2/3 majority for HB 2078 in the House -- so it will not pass unless a referendum clause is added.

I am very open to sending tax breaks to the voters. In addition to HB 2078, I also co-sponsored HB 1847, which would eliminate a variety of exemptions to help fund the Basic Health Plan. 

But the other reality that we must face is that even if we send a package to the voters and get it approved, it will not come soon enough to help with this budget -- which we are required by law to balance before we leave Olympia. I am deeply saddened by the effect that an all-cuts budget will have on people in our state. But I don't see an alternative. And at some level, candidly, I think that the voters need to see this pain before they really understand the consequences of supporting Tim Eyman.

Best wishes, Jamie


Representative Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District
pedersen.jamie@leg.wa.gov
Dear Rep. Pedersen,
I appreciate your dilemma, but I have to ask you to stand firm, not only on this issue, but on other issues of budget crucial to families, the poor, disabled or elderly.  They say it is always darkest before the dawn, and taking hope from that, I am using my blog, http://roominhouseblues.blogspot.com as a platform to campaign in 180 degrees the opposite from the infamous Grover Norquist pledge.  At the risk of asking for a great deal of political bravery, I am giving you the opportunity to sign it. 
Public Protection Budget Pledge
I, _______________, pledge to the citizens of the _____ district 
In the state of__________, and to the American people that I will: 
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to balance budget deficits at the expense of families, the poor, elderly,
disabled or vulnerable.
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of programs helping these populations, unless matched dollar for dollar by improved programs.  
                          
THREE, oppose cuts in entitlement programs that substantially harm these populations.
__________________                                         ___________________
Signature                                                              Witness
        
 ________________                                             ___________________
                                                             
Date                                                                       Date   
Document should be signed, dated, witnessed and returned to:
Committee to Protect the Budget for the American People
P.O. Box 95472
SeattleWA 98145  

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