|32nd Legislators (L-R)|
Rep Cindy Ryu, Sen Maralyn Chase and Rep Ruth Kagi
Senator Chase and Rep Kagi presented power point programs with many charts and graphs, to explain the budget challenges facing legislators this session.
Senator Chase spoke about the need for "fundamental structural change in our State economy". Because of the decline in personal incomes, there is not enough revenue coming in as had been the case just a few years ago. She advocated for the need for a "Decade of Innovation" to stimulate our economy. The plan would include expanded exports, attract talent and invest in human capitol and expand entrepreneurship. She said our state needs to encourage better freight mobility and be competitive on a global basis.
Rep Kagi gave a "Budget 101" presentation, showing the basics of the State Budget. She explained that we have three distinct parts of our state budget. These are the Operating, Transportation and Capitol Budgets. Over 50% of the budget is dependent on retail sales (which includes housing sales). She said right now, the state needs to make up for a $13 Billion shortfall, and the revenue forecasts show a further decline in the income to state coffers and also declines in employment. Up to 60% of this budget is not controlled by the legislature, but is mandated by law.
Rep Ryu spoke about some of the bills she's worked on and which have passed the house so far, including a "Mortgage Fraud prevention" Bill, and a Speed Limit Reduction Bill for cities. She talked about the Basic Necessities which the state must address including: common theme of education, housing for misdemeanants and felons, and to "invest upfront" for future job creation.
She wants to see the state "Float everybody's boat together".
In answer to audience questions:
Senator Chase said "We need to support the arts, because it stimulates creativity and economic development". On the Trans Alta agreement passed by the Senate she stated, "The 2020-25 (deal) is a doable and acceptable compromise. (We are)...making progress."
Rep Kagi stated, " The Citizens United decison is a threat to our democracy." and "Protecting family planning is my top priority!"
Rep Ryu said, " In order for free market and business to succeed in our state, we need strong public infrastructures. That work is done by public employees."
Citizens stayed for another half hour afterwards to ask even more questions. It was a very informative town hall session.