Thank you to the citizens of the 42nd who elected me again, and have entrusted me to be their voice during the 2013 legislative session. It's an honor that humbles me and one I do not take lightly. We face many challenges and big decisions this year. The state's spending problem and bad budgeting continues to be a concern for hardworking taxpayers. You have tightened your belts and have learned to live within your means - the state must do the same.
This year there is an additional budget hurdle. The courts have instructed the Legislature to fund education better; to fulfill their constitutional obligation. I support funding education first. If we believe our children are the future, then their education needs to be funded in its own budget before any other budget. Once we have taken care of our children, then we can effectively prioritize your remaining tax dollars. In order to comply with education reform requirements, we will only spend roughly 51 percent of an estimated $31.25 billion dollar budget. This would still leave us with more than enough money to care for our most vulnerable and maintain public safety. We can create a responsible budget without new or higher taxes.
Another issue of paramount importance, and one that is significant to me personally, is getting Washington working. I have seen far too many of our friends and neighbors without jobs. If we can reduce the number of regulations on businesses, then we can make this state a place where employers want to be. Right now, employers in Washington, as well as their workers, suffer because of over-regulation, fees, taxes and unnecessarily long permitting times. If we can get government to stop putting up road blocks, more businesses will locate here. With businesses come the jobs our citizens desperately need. Our state has an ample and talented workforce, inexpensive energy and a variety of other resources that are appealing for business, if we can get government out of the way.
I believe that we can find solutions to these matters and many more this session. Government can't be all things to all people, but it should function to meet the needs of taxpayers who foot the bill. My fellow representatives and I are dedicated to making progress and not getting tied up in the politics of Olympia. To that end, I would love to hear from you. The best ideas for how government should operate don't come from politicians and lobbyists - they come from the people who live and work in our communities. You can contact my legislative office at any time. Call me at 360-786-7854 with your ideas and opinions. Or, e-mail me at Vincent.Buys@leg.wa.gov with your thoughts and comments.
This session I will serve on four committees, to learn more about them I encourage you to visit my new website at houserepublicans.wa.gov/buys. I am excited to share with you that I have been appointed to the position of ranking Republican on Government Operations and Elections Committee. This committee is responsible for the processes of state government - including agency rulemaking. Due in part to the time I've spent on the state Building Code Council, I have firsthand insight into ways we can make agency rulemaking better. Rulemaking is the first step to making regulations feasible and thereby attracting employers to Washington.
Additionally, I have retained my seat on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Growing up in Lynden has given me a true appreciation for the needs of farmers in our district. Not only is agriculture important to our communities, this industry is the backbone of Washington's economy. This year, one of my goals in this committee is to encourage common sense ways to be environmental stewards while protecting and supporting our farmers. To help support our agriculture industry, I am also continuing to work on legislation that will allow farmers to more effectively access and use water.
We have a lot of work to do, but I am up to the challenge and surrounded by many other legislators who are willing to work hard for our citizens. Together we can find solutions that help truly reform government, institute fiscal responsibility and get Washington working again.
Rep. Vincent Buys is serving his second term as State Representative for the 42nd District, which includes all of Whatcom County. He is the ranking Republican on the House Government Operations and Elections Committee. Buys works and lives in Lynden.