Starting May 14, election year activity restrictions prohibit lawmakers from sending email messages like these until December. In this e-newsletter, I want to highlight some areas I am particularly proud of from this past year.
As always, you can reach out to my office for questions, concerns, thoughts, or ideas. It is an honor to serve you.
JBLM Intrepid Spirit Brain Center Opening
I had the honor of attending the official opening of the Intrepid Spirit Brain Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The center will deliver care to injured soldiers who suffer traumatic brain injuries in service to our country. It was a Capital Budget project I advocated for with the help of Congressman Norm Dicks and I was delighted to work closely with him and JBLM to secure $1 million in critical funding.
The Capital Budget also invests over $300 million in local projects, including new school construction, Western State Hospital improvements, completion of the Ponders Water Treatment Plant, funding for the Fircrest Community Center Pool, and a lot more in our communities.
The hard work of Pierce County lawmakers is why so many of our local projects get the support they need and add to our daily lives. I’m proud to continue bipartisan work with your elected officials that enhances the quality of life in our communities.
Rep. Kilduff and Congressman Norm Dicks, along with fellow lawmakers and advocates at the opening of the Intrepid Spirit Brain Center.
Reducing Property Taxes
Last year, my colleagues and I addressed a longstanding problem where homeowners in our community paid a disproportionate amount of property taxes compared to more property-rich districts in the Seattle area. The solution, HB 2242, improves funding for all schools across the state and decreases property taxes in many school districts in 2019, including a net decrease in property taxes in four of the five school districts in our area.
This year, the legislature passed an additional $390 million cut to your 2019 property taxes. Those cuts are coupled with the planned decrease taxes already passed in HB 2242. Even though your taxes were already going down next year, this additional $390 million cut will provide additional help for working and middle class families and those on a fixed income struggling to make ends meet.
Property taxes are still too high across our state and I will continue my work to reduce them further in the next budget.
Opposing ST3 Car Tab Taxes
When the legislature voted to send ST3 to the ballot in 2015, I was concerned that car tab taxes would be too high. That’s why I voted NO on that bill, and the accompanying gas tax, and opposed ST3 when it was on the ballot.
The authorization for ST3 included use of a car tab valuation system that is out-of-date and inaccurate. Cars are overvalued, and you are paying more for your car tabs than you should. It’s unfair and should never have been approved–which is one of the reasons I voted NO in 2015. There is a better system that already exists, which is almost exactly in line with Kelley Blue Book values. The legislature should use that valuation system.
I join in your disappointment that lawmakers have yet to agree on a fix to the unfair car tab valuation system used to calculate your taxes. In 2017 and 2018, I voted for the ST3 tax relief plan that passed out of the House with strong bipartisan support, HB 2201. Unfortunately, it did not pass the Senate.
Drivers need tax relief. I will continue to oppose these unfair Sound Transit car tab taxes and will continue to work with my colleagues so we deliver a solution to cutting your car tab taxes.
Making College Affordable for All
Cost should not be a barrier to a student pursuing a college education. Unfortunately, that’s the reality today. The legislature has made significant strides to address the high cost of tuition and student loan debt by:
- Lowering the cost of college tuition by 5 percent in 2015-2016;
- Expanding resources to help make textbooks and course materials more accessible;
- Increasing funding for the State Need Grant, an important source of funds for college students in need; and
- Passing the student loan bill of rights protecting students from predatory lending practices.
College is still a significant financial burden for many and we must continue to work to increase opportunity for students by reducing the high cost of tuition and ensuring fair terms for student loans.