Update from Olympia: What does a delay on REAL ID compliance mean for you?

 

The Washington State Senate adopts SR 8649, celebrating Navy Appreciation Day on April 6th, 2017

Celebrating Navy Appreciation Day

This week the Senate honored the United States Navy with Senate Resolution 8649, celebrating April 6 as Navy Appreciation Day. The resolution recognizes the many contributions of the U.S. Navy to Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

The military is so vital to our economy and the sacrifice our service men and women and their families make in all our branches of the military.

The resolution noted the significant Navy presence in Washington and it’s importance in global security. Washington is home to two aircraft carriers, 14 submarines, over 100 Navy aircraft, over 23,000 active-duty service members and 42,000 Navy family members.

REAL ID: What a delay in federal compliance would mean for you

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which requires uniform minimum standards for state-issued ID to be acceptable for federal purposes such as boarding commercial aircraft and entering military installations or other federal facilities.

Although Washington received an extension of the original deadline for compliance, we have been denied additional waivers. REAL ID requirements for commercial aircraft begin in January 2018.

The thing that makes this so important is that not passing legislation to comply with the REAL ID Act this session will prevent anyone with a standard Washington state driver’s license from entering any military facility or boarding domestic flights. In fact, Joint-Base Lewis McChord already imposes this restriction.

The Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) and U.S. passports are compliant and exempt you from those restrictions.

However, failing to comply with the REAL ID Act means:

  • Possible widespread disruptions and delays to air travel;
  • Unnecessary additional security risks if unsecured areas of our airports see larger crowds;
  • And, negative economic impact for businesses and state revenue should disruptions affect the SeaTac or Spokane airports.

The key to becoming REAL ID compliant is clearly marking regular driver’s licenses and ID cards as “not valid for federal purposes.”

Since the $108 price tag for the Enhanced Driver’s License is a concern, Senate Bill 5008 dramatically reduces the cost to $66.

Despite criticisms of varying methods for compliance being considered by legislators and outside groups, this has to be done now. The House must pass SB 5008. It is the simplest and most logical path forward.

Education Funding Update: Clearing up false claims

You may have read the latest criticisms of the Senate Education Equality Act, which is our plan to fully fund education in Washington.

Some in the press claim that we are putting less “new money” into education, that it raises taxes than we originally claimed and that less of it will come from local sources.

It’s important that you have the facts about what our plan does and does not do with your money so I am providing the following information.

  • The Senate budget puts more state funds into K-12 over the next four years than the House proposal. (See the chart above.)
  • The House proposal relies on an unconstitutional funding method to pay for basic education, namely local levies, which the Supreme Court has said is unconstitutional because it creates severe inequity across school districts. And, we do not plan to use any local money for basic education as the McCleary decision requires that the money be state funds.
  • The House’s over-reliance on local levies would mean they would collect $852 million more in property taxes than our plan would, according to the governor’s budget office.
  • Under the Senate plan, 83% of taxpayers in the state would pay LESS taxes to support schools. This is based on our proposed levy rate of $1.55 per $1,000 of the assessed value of your home. This would be the same across the state, which means areas with lower property values would see dramatic decreases and only a few school districts in areas with the highest property values would see modest increases.
  • The amount of state money per student goes up significantly under our plan even without any local levies. Funding per pupil would go up nearly $1,500, which would completely cover the current funding provided by local levies plus an additional $1,460 per student.
  • While the press has implied that the numbers we’ve provided can’t be trusted, let me be clear that this is not the case. Our numbers are based on projections, but they have been developed jointly by the Senate, the House and the staff in the governor’s budget office.

If you have any questions about the Education Equality Act, go to www.FullyFundEducation.org. You can also contact my office.

A 20 percent increase in the B&O tax??

As I’ve explained before, the Senate education plan relies on levy reform as its funding mechanism for basic education.

The House plan, however, does nothing to address levy reform, which is the key to satisfy the Supreme Court’s demand that education funding be more equitable. This makes their plan unconstitutional, which could result in us ending up back in court. Levy reform is the crux of the solution to the McCleary decision.

One of the taxes the House does want is a 20 percent increase in the Business & Occupation tax.

We already have many tax laws that undermine business in Washington and implementing this increase would be another slap in the face to business owners that would be passed along to consumers, could cause a loss in jobs and could drive business to other states.

A more equitable method is the $1.55/$1,000 flat levy rate statewide that results in a tax cut for 83% of taxpayers and addresses the opportunity gap between low- and high-income students. The House’s B&O tax increase is not a solution.

Welcoming guests to the Capitol

Senator Becker with guests; April 4, 2017

It was so nice to visit with constituents Bill Connor, Jeri Paine and Ed Pole when they came to the Capitol for lunch with me. I love having people from the 2nd Legislative District see the legislative process in action.

Coming to Olympia? Contact my office to set up a visit!