Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I trust you had a wonderful holiday season and sincerely hope this next year is the best ever for you, your family and friends. It was great to see about 30 people show up at my coffee hour the first week of January. We had a constructive time discussing important issues, informing each other of our thoughts and opinions, and trying to prognosticate the chances for certain legislation. I truly enjoy meeting with my constituents and getting feedback. Thank you to those who were able to make it through the snow to this event.
While making decisions on your behalf during the 2016 session and beyond, here are a few key priorities that will guide me:
- Provide students with a world-class education
- Empower families and strengthen communities
- Protect taxpayers and hold government accountable
- Safeguard our neighborhoods
This is a supplemental budget year. This means our budget should not make major policy changes or increase state spending. A supplemental budget is for small tweaks to the two-year spending plan signed into law in July of 2016. We usually adjust spending very slightly for changes in caseloads, unexpected expenditures or unusually high enrollments. But we have to remember that every dollar allocated to new programs or policies will count as two dollars when we write our next two-year budget proposal in 2017. This “bow wave” of spending during supplemental budget years in the past resulted in significant budget shortfalls when the economy went into recession. We need to be prudent with what we have and make small course adjustments to stay on track.
I anticipate further action on meeting our McCleary obligations as a bipartisan, bicameral workgroup puts the final touches on an agreed-upon plan. We still need to know how much school districts rely on local levy dollars for their everyday expenses. Once that information is determined, a final levy solution can be addressed. I anticipate that happening during the 2017 session.
I also anticipate a bipartisan solution to the state's voter-approved public charter school system. The state Supreme Court unfortunately threw the baby out with the bathwater in last year's ruling right when kids, parents and teachers were settling into the school year. While the state's charter schools have obtained private funds to finish out the year, the court's ruling has jeopardized this important education choice for the future. I would like to see the governor come out in support of charter schools – he's had ample opportunity to do so. Sadly, he has not.
With the current political and security climate, and with recent actions taken by President Obama and Gov. Inslee, I'm often asked about the issue of guns and the Second Amendment. As an ardent supporter of our Constitutional Rights, I have always opposed attempts to circumvent our Second Amendment rights and will continue vigorous opposition to current anti-gun legislation. As your state Representative, if any of the proposed legislation comes to one of my committees or to the House floor for a vote, I will speak out and vote against legislation that seeks to limit our Second Amendment Rights.
I recently had the opportunity to tour the Department of Natural Resources fire suppression equipment and facilities at the Olympia airport. With the deadly fires of the last two summers fresh in mind, I wanted more information from DNR. They are a hardworking group of people. But I know we can do more to help coordinate local resources when battling expansive wildfires.
I invite you to stay in touch with your state government. Here are a few resources to consider:
- Capitol Buzz – A daily electronic clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- The Current – An online publication from House Republicans to include you in the legislative process. Click here to subscribe.
- Capitol Report – You can get all of the Washington House Republican Capitol Report programs on your iPhone and iPad through the iTunes store by clicking here.
- Check out my website – www.representativelarryhaler.com. From this link, you can get more information about me, the bills I've sponsored and view my news releases.
- Photos – Access my photo gallery here.
- Video updates – Every other week, I record a new legislative video update with the latest news from the Legislature. You can view my reports here on YouTube.
- TVW – The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org
- Legislature's website – You can get bill reports, committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www.leg.wa.gov
As always, please feel free to contact with questions or concerns about state government issues. It's an honor to serve you in Olympia.