Today marks the fiscal committee cutoff deadline. That means today is the last day for House members to vote bills out of the Appropriations, Capital Budget, General Government, Finance, and Transportation Committees.
Simplifying business taxes and holding big corporations accountable
Last week, the Finance Committee heard and passed my bill (HB 2959) to help businesses by simplifying the process of paying city B&O taxes. Currently, businesses that operate in different cities have to file their local B&O taxes separately — filing individually to each city and separately to the state. The process is time-consuming, and with separate filing fees, potentially costly.
We want to encourage Washington businesses to expand to other cities and regions, but frankly the burdensome process of keeping track of all your individual tax filings might be enough to discourage the single parent who is trying to be an entrepreneur and raise a family at the same time. Under HB 2959, DOR will develop a plan to build an online portal where businesses are able pay all of their B&O taxes in one place, provided that the cities in which they operate opt-in to the service. Businesses would also be able to take care of all their licensing in one place.
Since my last e-newsletter, I’ve received an overwhelming number of responses in support of HB 2638, which would require Boeing to maintain certain job levels in order to continue to receive the full benefits of tax incentives extended in 2013. This issue has been at the heart of an ongoing conversation over the past few years. It couldn’t be clearer that Washingtonians wants us to hold big companies that receive special tax breaks accountable. This means adding and keeping jobs in state so we’re able to justify the lost funding source.
Every revenue decision we make has an impact on the future of this state. With the funding priorities we face, Washingtonians are just as invested in these breaks as the companies that receive them. Unfortunately, HB 2638 did not pass out of the House Finance Committee last week. I’m disappointed we couldn’t do what Washingtonians desire by requiring that the biggest tax break in state history be paired with job growth in the region.
Successes in education
The past few weeks have been big for education in Washington. Your House of Representatives voted to achieve excellence in our schools and give our 1 million kids in public schools greater opportunities to learn. Among the bills we approved:
- Fully funding education — I sponsored and voted in support of HB 2366, the bipartisan plan developed by the interim workgroup that consisted of Senate and House Democrats and Republicans. Together, we developed a bipartisan plan to move us closer to fully funding education. Unfortunately, at the 11th hour one Republican Senator who wasn’t a part of the workgroup swooped in and backed the Senate Republicans out of the deal. The House stuck to the bipartisan agreement and passed the plan. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans gutted the bill and delayed a solution until 2018 — too late for our school districts to budget in time to meet our obligations. We’re waiting for our colleagues on the Senate to once again join us in working towards fully funding education in time.
- Solving the teacher shortage — Washington state has a teacher shortage crisis. It’s not a problem. It’s not a dilemma. It’s a crisis. I voted for a bipartisan bill to help get more qualified substitute teachers into our classrooms. But this is just the beginning of solving a bigger problem.
- Closing the opportunity gap — We have more than 460,000 students in Washington who, as a group, score 20-30 percent lower on academic assessments. This problem is commonly referred to as the “Opportunity Gap,” and it predominately impacts low-income kids and children of color. It does not have to be this way. Closing the opportunity gap will get us much closer to our goal of providing educational opportunities for all students.
What lies ahead?
These votes are steps in the right direction toward reaching our goals and ensuring our education system is fully funded.
Can a legislator help with that?
Sometimes accessing government services or resolving a problem with a state agency can feel like navigating an endless maze. Did you know that in many cases, your legislators’ offices can help you work effectively with state agencies or facilitate communication with resource providers?
Each circumstance is different, but here are four ways that a legislator’s office can help and three ways they can’t.
A legislative office can help:
- Facilitate communication between you and a state agency. For example, if your food assistance application was denied, a legislative office can contact DSHS directly to find out the reason for denial, clarify eligibility requirements, and make sure you understand the steps to take in order to reapply or appeal.
- Help you get answers to questions about agency procedures on topics ranging from obtaining permits to paying business taxes.
- Refer you to the civil legal assistance hotline so you can get legal advice about how to handle an eviction notice.
- Connect you with local resources such as emergency rent assistance or food banks.
Legislative offices cannot:
- Get involved in an ongoing legal matter.
- Resolve disputes between two private parties.
- Direct an agency to decide a matter in your favor.