Kraft named to ranking leadership role, receives committee assignments for coming session

Rep. Vicki Kraft has been elevated to a new leadership position as ranking Republican on the House Local Government Committee. The committee considers issues relating to the operations and financing of counties, cities and some specific districts.

“There's an immense amount of pressure building across the state for affordable housing. The largest cost drivers contributing to this problem are excessive Growth Management Act regulations and the onerous permitting process. We need to find ways to lower these costs,” said Kraft, R-Vancouver. “Being the top Republican on this committee creates an opportunity for dialogue about how we can modify GMA and excessive stormwater regulations that impact businesses and residential housing across Washington.”

Committee assignments for the 2019 session, which begins Jan. 14, were issued Friday.

In addition to Local Government, Kraft will serve on the House Appropriations Committee, which considers the operating budget bill, budgeting processes and fiscal issues.

“In my first term of office, I was astounded by the enormous volume of bills passed by committees without a care of their fiscal impacts. The bills would advance and then the Legislature would have to find money to fund them, which is quite a backwards approach in my opinion,” said Kraft. “We need to have a better understanding in advance about the fiscal impact of a bill before it passes, and we need to do a better job of planning and saving, rather than asking taxpayers to bail us out.”

Kraft voiced concern about the governor's recent budget plan, which calls for an additional $9 billion in business and income taxes over four years to pay for a 22 percent increase in spending.

“It's absurd to ask taxpayers for more money when the state will collect an additional $4 billion over the current budget cycle due to economic growth. Instead, we should be looking at giving some of that money back to offset the cost of property tax increases,” Kraft added.

Kraft will also serve on the House Education Committee.

“Some want to revisit McCleary. However, after six years of intense work on the educational funding issue and billions of dollars later, the state Supreme Court said the Legislature has met the requirements, including reducing the over-reliance on local levies,” said Kraft. “We don't need to re-open McCleary. We just need to let this play out for a while so that the funding mechanism can be fully implemented before tinkering with it.”

In addition to her committee assignments, Kraft outlined three of her top priorities for the 2019 session, including:

• Reducing business and occupation taxes on small businesses and the frequency of tax filing;
• Exploring options for a third bridge connector between Vancouver and Portland to address congestion relief on the I-5 corridor without requiring mass transit/light rail; and
• Targeting sex traffickers by increasing fines against those who sexually exploit minors.

“I expect it will be a busy 105-day session in Olympia, especially as we create a new two-year budget. My goals are to ensure fiscal responsibility, protect our taxpayers, do what we can to foster and not harm economic growth for our small businesses, reduce traffic congestion, and ensure safe families,” noted Kraft.


Washington State House Republican Communications