ST3 car tab relief, a budget that fully funds education, and veteran bills in the Senate
March 27, 2017 | By Rep. Kristine Reeves
Pushing to put real money back in your pockets
I have heard from so many of you about Sound Transit and the increase in your car tab taxes. What became clear very quickly as the public shared their concerns with the legislature was that the primary focus was on punishing Sound Transit’s board or accountability measures that didn’t solve the actual problem of higher costs out of your pocket.
One thing I saw missing was YOUR interests.
What I have clearly heard is that some of you cannot afford these fees at all and it is the difference between food that month, medicine, gas to get to and from work or registering your car. Which is why I introduced HB 2148 to establish a rebate program to get real money back into the pockets of working families who need it the most.
I get that everyone is upset about the high cost of the ST3 car tabs. We are all feeling the sticker shock of these new taxes and as a working mom, my family feels the sting every time we have unexpected costs, too, but I am working hard to balance the wishes of all our neighbors, including those who voted in support of ST3.
There are still ongoing discussions and ideas being shared in the Legislature about how to fix the larger issue around the formula that Sound Transit uses to tax your vehicle. I will continue talking to my colleagues about how we can include this rebate program and other accountability solutions to ensure you know exactly what you are getting from Sound Transit and I will keep you updated as this effort progresses.
Investing in our economy by putting our kids & working families first
As a working mom and an economic developer, I came to the Legislature to make sure we were fully funding K-12 education without doing it at the expense of the social safety net, and not on the backs of working families like yours and mine.
This week, the House Democrats unveiled our budget plan to fully fund K-12 education and continue to invest in a strong economy.
The fully-funded education plan ensures:
- we are paying teachers more equitably,
- we are reducing the number of students in K-3 classrooms,
- we adhere to the voter-approved initiative to pay teachers’ cost of living increases, and
- we are implementing programs to recruiting new teachers to fill the gap.
The proposed budget also invests in higher education, early learning and childcare, mental health, health care, public safety, natural resources and rural economic development; all to ensure we are balancing an economy that works for everyone in our state.
As part of this budget plan, we are also proposing lowering taxes for small businesses and closing costly tax preferences that take money out of our schools and put them in corporate profits.
Of course, the Senate has to agree to our budget and so far, we are pretty far apart. There’s a month left before we are supposed to adjourn so problem solving over partisanship is imperative. Both sides must sit down at the bargaining table, compromise and agree to a deal that puts Washington’s working families first.
I am thankful to my 30th district seatmate, Senator Mark Miloscia, for hearing two of my veteran and servicemember bills in the Senate State Government committee last week. The first bill would create a new pilot program to connect rural and remote veterans to federal earned services. The services already exist, but far too many veterans cannot access them. This bill would help change that.
The second bill, the “Wounded Warrior Shared Leave Act,” creates a new pool of shared leave for state workers who are veterans or servicemembers. Usually the 6-month probation period prohibits new state employees from using leave. For veterans, that can mean taking unpaid leave while they see a doctor or visit Veterans’ Affairs. For those who sacrifice for us, I think this bit of bureaucracy can be removed.
Both bills, HB 1571 and HB 1802, passed out of the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. In order to become a law, they must first pass out of the Senate committee, and then get passed off the Senate floor. I am hoping for bipartisan support to pass both bills into law.
Hearing from my neighbors is my favorite part of the job. If you find yourself in Olympia in the next month, please stop by my office for a visit. You can also email, call, or write my office anytime. It is truly my honor to serve as your state representative.