Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am disappointed to share that the Legislature has concluded its 60-day session without reaching an agreement on a final state operating budget. This is frustrating given the solid 2015-17 bipartisan budget approved last session and the need, in my opinion, for only minor modifications to the existing bipartisan budget. In order to continue work to find a compromise, the governor immediately called us into a special session.
As a matter of process, in order to pass an updated budget, the House, Senate, and Governor must all agree on the same budget document. Both the House and the Senate have approved budgets, but their spending priorities differ. When this happens and a special session results, it is common for the House or Senate (or their respective political parties) to blame each other. I refuse to operate that way. As your representative and as a member of this Legislature, I share in the responsibility to approve our state budgets.
My goal, however, is for the Legislature to approve responsible budgets that demonstrate a prudent use of your tax dollars. Sometimes this requires voting “no” on budget proposals with the hope of being presented something better. I voted “no” on the only operating budget presented to the House so far because of its overreliance on the Budget Stabilization Account (also known as the “Rainy Day Fund”).
This House budget, which was narrowly approved on Feb. 25, would transfer nearly $470 million from the Budget Stabilization Account to balance the budget. The Budget Stabilization Account, approved by voters in 2007, grows gradually as the state experiences “extraordinary revenue growth” during good economic times. I believe voters intended it to be used primarily for emergency purposes.
The House-passed budget would tap into this account $190 million for wildfire reimbursement spending, which was indeed an emergency. However, the remaining $280 million of spending from the Budget Stabilization Account are not necessarily emergencies, in my opinion. I am willing to consider utilizing the Budget Stabilization Account for some priorities beyond wildfires, such as the K-12 levy lid deferral (estimated to cost $90 million), but I am less willing to leverage the fund unnecessarily in an off-budget year for other needs.
As your state representative, I hope that my position represents your collective position as well.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state representative!