Senate Republican leaders released the following remarks as the 2021 legislative session came to a close as it prepared for the traditional “Sine Die” adjournment.
Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia:
“Throughout this session Republicans have consistently offered ideas and taken positions that come from listening to the people. It’s been disappointing to see the majority go in a different direction on several major issues simply because it had the votes. Some of our sensible proposals are included in the new state budget, which is encouraging, but other policies wrapped into the budget by the majority are going to hurt families and employers, and in a deeply regressive way.
“Besides contending with our colleagues in the majority, we worked very hard this session on another, unexpected front – defending the people whose lives are still being controlled by the executive branch. Republicans drove the discussion on the reopening of our schools, and the reopening of our economy, and the students and families and employers of our state are better off for it. It’s frustrating that our majority colleagues are basically allowing the governor to continue having his way. Their refusal to even discuss updates to the emergency-powers law is incomprehensible. But I’ve very proud of our caucus and how we are standing up for the people.”
Senate Republican Caucus Chair Ann Rivers, R-La Center:
“I’m reminded of the saying about actions speaking louder than words. My colleagues in the majority have spoken repeatedly about their dislike for regressive taxes and their intent to apply an equity lens to all their bills – but just look at the actions they’ve taken. The prime example is what happened with the Working Families Tax Credit. Our Senate Republican budget proposal funded this tax relief without needing more taxes, and the Democrats include it in their budget – but along with other policies that may easily cost low-income families more than they’d get from the tax credit. The majority gives with one hand, and takes away with the other. There’s nothing progressive or equitable about that.
“It’s especially troubling how the majority seems content to limit the people’s access to democracy. All session long, our constituents have been kept away from their Capitol – and today, 25 Democrats in the Senate denied them the right to challenge the new income tax through a referendum. They’re not listening to the taxpayers now, and they clearly have no desire to hear from the voters later this year. That is not how you put people first.”
Senate Republican Floor Leader Shelly Short, R-Addy:
“In a year when families have been burdened by the shutdown orders mandated on them by the governor, the Legislature only added to their struggles by passing more regressive taxes that are unnecessary to balance the budget. These taxes will harm manufacturing jobs, do little to improve the environment, and increase the costs of food, fuel and electricity. The particular burden of the income tax on capital gains will only hurt our small businesses and those individuals who have made smart investments throughout their lives to support their retirement and their families and do nothing to fix the purported regressive tax code in Washington state. The majority party did all of this while failing to listen to the voice of our constituents and curb the governor’s emergency powers.
“I do not believe it is any coincidence that so many controversial bills were able to pass this session with the public only participating in their state government virtually. Unfortunately, they will pay a high price for the choices made in Olympia this year.”
Senate Republican Whip Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro Woolley:
“When the 2021 legislative session began in January, I was certain we as lawmakers would work in a bipartisan manner to address the governor’s emergency powers; how wrong I was. Senate Republicans introduced legislation which would refine and focus the governor’s emergency powers, but it was continually rejected by the majority party. Now that the legislative session has ended, we are right back where we were a year ago – unable to act as an equal branch of government. Democrats know it is wrong and would never accept this situation if there was a Republican in the Governor’s Mansion.
“The people of Washington state deserve better. They deserve a government that is accountable to them. We failed them this year by not listening to them and restoring the balance of power in Olympia.”