Opinion

OLYMPIA REPORT: State shortfall at $2.2 billion

By Sen. Pam Roach

For The Courier-Herald

Monday morning the special legislative session got under way. As expected, the capitol grounds were filled with protesters anticipating severe budget cuts and program eliminations.

Job losses and reduction of services will occur even though the state’s revenues are up $200 million dollars from the 2009-11 budget. The reason for this is not just inflation and increased population. The largest factor is that we will not, again, have $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money to artificially pump up our revenue. Consequently, we have a $2.2 billion dollar shortfall from the previous spending level.

Statewide, this will mean another round of job losses. We have not hit bottom yet. I have been urging reforms at Child Protective Services which will allow for better service and cut spending at the same time. Here at home your legislative delegation has been working together to save operations at Rainier School.

Working with citizens, parents, and leaders, I have prepared “Rainier School: A Report to the Legislature.” This report has been distributed to legislators and makes the case that Rainier School is a positive choice for care and that it has a future, nationally, to be a premier example of community involved care for individuals with disabilities. The report may be viewed online at: SenateRepublicans.wa.gov/Roach.

 

Economic recovery

and oil independence

 

Job creation and expansion of foreign trade are the most important elements of economic recovery. I have been working hard on both.

Washington state has a huge oil refinery at Anacortes. We receive more than twice as much Canadian crude oil as does any other state. And that crude comes from the oil sands of Alberta.

This month I travelled to Ft. McMurry, Alberta, to study oil sands and take part in the national debate we are having over the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. (No taxpayer dollars are spent on my trips. I was invited by Alberta’s government to join nine other legislators from around the United States.)

Canada has the world’s third largest oil reserve. They are increasing crude production and because our federal government will not allow us to receive more, the oil is going to China. As a matter of national security, energy independence, and just keeping gas prices down, we need to move forward. Instead, the Obama administration has blocked the pipeline project. Thousands of new high-paying jobs have been ignored and our friends in the north are left wondering what in the world the American people are thinking!

I have been asked to make a national presentation on the issue. And, if you want to see some oil sand, just drop by the office.

TRADE GROWTH

We live in the most trade dependent state in the country. Trade means jobs. That is the point of my article printed in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s December publication. I hope to spur local efforts to seek a larger market for goods. Please see my legislative website or my personal blog, pamroachreport.blogspot.com, for the article.

Through the years I have been involved in humanitarian efforts in Honduras and last week I returned from a visit that focused on a trade mission I hope to lead. On this trip I toured a major port, met with elected officials and toured a factory in preparation for leading business people there next year. (Please see my personal blog for more information.)

But this trip was unique in other ways. As our vehicle arrived in Puerto Cortez, Honduras, I saw, for the first time, the new “Clinica Medica Pam Roach.” I am deeply humbled by this. This and other efforts are helping many. Thank you to all the good people here who have helped. I love Americans. We are a very generous people.

I always want to express thank you to the voters who have elected me to represent our district in Olympia. This will be a tough year. My door is always open. My staff knows that each and every one of you is special and we will do our best to serve. You may call me on my home phone, 253-735-4210, or the Olympia office on 360-786-7660 now that we are in session.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

 

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