Actually, I’m a Phil, but who’s keeping score here?
I spent some time with Mr. Completely and Stefan Sharkansky on a conference call with some Washington State House Republicans yesterday evening. John Rothlin, the House Republican Communications Director, Representative Cary Condotta of the 12th LD, Representative Ed Orcutt of the 18th LD and a third gentleman whose name I wrote down but am unable to read at this time.
The topics of conversation were the Republican Tax Cut Plan and their “Families Before Felons” Rally.
C’mon below the fold and see what this was all about.
It appears that Washington State has a $3.5 Billion dollar surplus just kind of sitting around doing not much but acting as a source of temptation for Washington State Legislators to spend on their pet projects. The Republican Party members of the Washington State Legislature would like to put half of that money into a “Rainy Day Fund” for emergencies and the like (as any intelligent household would) and then put the other half where it rightly belongs….
Back in the pockets of the Washington State Taxpayers.
The major portion of this includes taking $820 Million and giving it to property owners via a Property Tax Rebate, which would give each household $377, on average.
While $377 might not sound like much, any money back to the taxpayer is better than none. Unless you have a (D) after your name, then it is always “too much” and “costing the state money”.
What I really like about this plan is that on the back of the check will be a list of boxes. Each of the boxes correspond to an account for a particular part of the Washington State Budget. These boxes are for the people who do not think they are being taxed enough so that they may put their money where their mouth is. If they don’t want their property tax rebate, they can check the box that corresponds where they’d like their rebate to go. If they want the money to go to education, then they just check that box and send the check back. The same rules apply for parks, roads, etc.
Another part of the tax plan says that the state has come into this surplus because property taxes are too high, and seeks to cut them.
A few years back, the citizens passed Initiative 747, which limited non-emergency increases to property tax rates to 1% per year. Of course, King County immediately filed suit saying that the citizens did not have the right to tell the state how much their taxes could be increased because, in King County’s eternal wisdom, Government Knows Best. They won the first couple rounds, but the case is currently sitting in front of the Washington Supreme Court await a decision.
With their disappointing decision on Eminent Domain, ala Kelo, I fear that the WA SCOTUS decision will be disappointing, and so do the state Republicans. So they have included not only the wording of I-747, but also a provision to slow down skyrocketing home values.
These values are why King County wanted to void the 1% increase. They were at the epicenter of the rising values and saw a pile of cash that they just had to have. The Republican plan states that if your property value goes up 0-5%, that 5% will stand. If your property value goes up 5-25%, you will only have to absorb 5% of the raise in your property’s assessed taxable value. And if you are one of the lucky ones whose property values go up more than 25%, you will only have to absorb 15%.
All perfectly reasonable requests.
Property values in King County, along with towns in other counties that border King County have seen multiple 20% value increases per year over the past 5 years. The state and the counties have been raking in the dough because of these increases, partially caused by King County’s “Critical Areas Ordinance” which cut down the supply of available land to build on or made it too expensive to build on.
Other than being a worthless piece of Marxism, the CAO does give me some cause to laugh because the same people who supported the CAO are the same ones bitching that it is too expensive to live in King County.
The other topic on the agenda was the “Families Before Felons” rally.
Today at noon on the Capital steps in Olympia, the Republicans will be holding their “Families Before Felons” rally to highlight the bills that the state Democrats have sponsored which would benefit only felons.
Like the pair (HB-1473 and SB-5530) that would give all felons not confined within the walls of a state or federal prison, including those on parole and those who have not fully paid their fines or restitution, the right to vote.
Mr. Rothlin made sure to mention that citizens are welcome to join them on the Capital steps today at noon.
Since we were talking about felons, I made sure to bring up the subject of rampant levels of felon recidivism in Washington State, brought on by nearly complete incompetence in administration at the Washington State Department of Corrections. I posted about this on Monday and I got some very good information from this call.
Unbeknownst to me, after the second Seattle PD officer was killed by a convicted felon who was in blatant violation of their parole, the House Republicans sent a letter of to the head of the Washington DoC asking for answers.
That was in December, it is now February. No reply has been given and none is expected.
Which was exactly what the article I linked to on Monday said about the requests for answers submitted by both the Seattle Police Department Chief and the Sheriff of King County. It is also the same answer Seattle’s ABC affiliate, KOMO, received to their inquiries.
As I also found out via this phone call, the office of DoC Head is an appointed position filled by the Governor. With this knowledge I made the suggestion that the House Republicans do one of two things:
1. Send a letter as a formal request to (Barely) Governor Christine Gregiore asking her to make an attempt to get answers from the person in charge of the DoC. The letter would state that if said person either does not answer the previously sent letter or make themselves available to the Washington State House of Representatives for questioning on this matter, they will be removed from their post by the Governor.
2. On the floor of the Washington State House of Representatives, remind their fellow Representatives that they are the third and last line of defense for citizen accountability on matters like this (the first being citizen questions and the second being the media), and that if no answers are to be forthcoming from the head of the DoC, then they should call for a vote of no confidence.
This refusal to take responsibility for what is apparently an agency-wide policy of not keeping track of their parolees, cannot be let to stand. Something needs to be done about it.
I got sort of a wishy-washy response on this line of questioning, but that could have been because I went into “Rant-Mode” and took over the line. Either way, I do hope that maybe I was able to offer up some things they hadn’t heard or thought of before and that something is done soon.
If you have a blog and are a resident of Washington State, and would like to join us in these calls, please leave your info in the comments or email it to me and I’ll get you the hook-up, homie!