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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2021 legislative session is moving fast. We only have a month left to hear and vote on nearly 200 bills before we’re scheduled to adjourn on April 25. We still have a lot of big issues to cover, including the transportation, capital, and operating budgets.

However, first, I want to thank all of you who joined me and my fellow 25th District legislators, Rep. Kelly Chambers and Sen. Chris Gildon, for our Zoom town hall over the weekend. We rely on you to help us shape our opinions and create our policies. We enjoyed meeting with you and listening to what’s on your mind. If you ever have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Operating Budget, Revenue Forecast, and Taxes

Arguably, the biggest task remaining this session is passing a two-year operating budget. House Republicans released our budget proposal more than a month ago, which would help everyone in Washington, especially those who need it the most, without raising taxes.

This is a key component of our budget, especially considering the numbers from the most recent state revenue forecast. There was no need to raise taxes to begin with, but the new forecast completely removes all doubt.

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released and adopted its latest state revenue forecast on Wednesday, March 17. As compared to the November 2020 forecast, Near General Fund-Outlook revenue increased by $1.34 billion for 2019-21 and by $1.95 billion for 2021-23.

So, based on those numbers, state tax revenue for 2021-23 is projected to be $56.6 billion, which represents an increase of 8.2% over the current biennium. With the state revenue forecast alone, we are now expected to be back to essentially pre-pandemic income levels.

That doesn’t even take into consideration the billions of dollars Washington’s state and local governments are expected to receive from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Washington will receive $7.1 billion for state ($4.25 billion + $189 million for state capital projects) and local governments ($2.66 billion) as well as an additional $635 million for child care, almost $1.9 billion for K-12 schools, and $655 million for higher education.

If these projections do not change, our state and local governments will have received more than $24 billion in federal stimulus funds in the last year.

State government has plenty of money to operate without creating new taxes, including the capital gains income tax that was recently approved in the Senate 25-24, and is currently being considered in the House.

Now is not the time to increase taxes. While state government is in good shape, there are thousands of families and small businesses still hurting. We need to help them, instead of taking more money out of their pockets. I strongly oppose this tax policy. The Legislature should be providing tax relief – not increases – to help those still struggling to recover.

Phase 3: Open Safe, Open Now

Speaking of recovery, I was very happy to hear the governor finally moved the entire state to Phase 3. This was a long time coming. Republican lawmakers, and even some legislators from the other side had been pushing for this move for many weeks.

In fact, Republicans from both the House and Senate introduced bills that would have opened Washington immediately. When we introduced our Open Safe, Open Now plan and shared it with the governor, he initially scoffed at the idea. However, a short time later, he made his own Phase 3 announcement and much of his plan was identical to ours.

The governor also finally eased restrictions in our senior care centers and made a stronger push to open schools on a larger scale. Our kids are suffering and it’s clear they need to have the opportunity to return fulltime.

In addition, with the recent announcement from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that 3-foot distancing in schools is enough to keep students and teachers safe, we need to open schools all the way. We will continue to push for the state to adopt the 3-foot distancing guidance so more kids can return to in-person learning.

Transportation Budget

The majority party rolled out its transportation budget this week with House Bill 1135. The forecast is a little less positive compared to the operating budget, with revenue down slightly. However, there is some good news. The transportation budget will be getting $800 million from the feds which we have built into the preliminary budget for culverts and to backfill some revenue.

Now is the time to hold steady until we see how this shakes out. Additionally, no new taxes have been added to the proposal, which is great news. There is also enough money to fund ongoing projects.

The most important thing is that we keep our promises on the projects we have started and avoid the temptation to construct a revenue package that would raise taxes by responding to a temporary situation. Stay tuned as this continues to develop.

Medicaid Reimbursement Rate

Thank you for contacting me about the Medicaid reimbursement rate for nursing homes. I completely agree that we must increase the rate for nursing homes to address the significant gap in funding and to prevent more closures. Far too many have closed already, so we must keep the remaining homes we have operational.

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I wrote a letter to the budget writers urging them to address this matter. I believe we must take the following actions to prevent more closures:

  • Provide an inflator to ensure system sustainability based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for Urban Skilled Nursing Facilities.
  • Adopt annual rebasing to ensure rates keep up with actual cost of care.
  • Provide a one-time, early rebase of rates to stop imminent facility closures.

You can see the entire letter by clicking here. This issue is personal for me and I will be fighting to increase the rate in the budget. It is vital that our loved ones are taken care of.

Update on my Legislation

I introduced House Bill 1119 this session, which passed out of the House in February. I’m happy to report that this legislation is alive and still being considered in the Senate. The bill passed out of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Committee and has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

I will continue to update the progress of this legislation, which would encourage the use of open source course materials at our four-year colleges, as well as inform students of the prices of textbooks before they register for courses.

Bill to Ban Open Carry at Demonstrations and State Capitol Still Alive

I also wanted to update you on Senate Bill 5038, which would make it a crime to openly carry a firearm, on the person or in a vehicle, if you are participating in or attending a “demonstration” in a public place, including the state Capitol.

This bill has already passed the Senate and been voted out of House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, which means it could soon be voted on, on the House floor. I support our Second Amendment rights and I will vote no on this bill.

You Can Still Make Your Voice Heard

If you want to participate in this remote session, there is still time to have your voice heard. You can testify on any bill from anywhere you have internet access. I encourage you to do so! Use these links to sign up to testify remotely:

House remote testimony

Senate remote testimony

Please Stay in Touch

Thank you so much for allowing me to serve. I take my duties and responsibilities as a state legislator very seriously. Please continue reaching out to me and sharing your questions, ideas, and concerns. You can reach me via the contact info below. I look forward to hearing from you.

In service,

Sincerely,


Cyndy Jacobsen

State Representative Cyndy Jacobsen, 25th Legislative District
RepresentativeCyndyJacobsen.com
122E Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
cyndy.jacobsen@leg.wa.gov
(253) 330-8466 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000