Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As I reported in my last legislative email update, our state's current revenue is more than ample. In fact, it's substantial enough to supply all Washington state's needs and more!
With an estimated $3 billion in surplus revenue, we can invest in many of our state's shared priorities including increased funding for special education, state parks, affordable housing and fixing the governor's failed mental health care system.
Unfortunately, instead of living within our state's means, House Democrats want to impose an additional $4.2 billion of new taxes over the next four years. These new taxes include a capital gains tax—which violates our state constitution's restriction on a graduated income tax.
The capital gains income tax is more than just constitutionally objectionable, Washington state voters have repeatedly said “no” taxes on income. In fact, according to the Washington Secretary of State, on 10 consecutive occasions, voters have rejected a state income tax, including six proposed constitutional amendments. And yet, here we are.
Even more concerning is the sizable spending hike—$8.5 billion—these taxes will help fund. I've included the chart below to give you a better picture of the kind of increased spending we are talking about.
As you can see, in 2013 the state's operating budget hovered at $30.9 billion. The House Democrats 2019-21 operating budget proposal is $56.9 billion. That's a 70% increase in state spending since 2013!
The urge to tax and spend in Olympia is out of control! This level of spending is not responsible or sustainable. Economists are already predicting a cooling economy, which will require painful budget cuts in the future.
Unfortunately, as hard as we fought to stop it, the House Democrats 2019-21 operating budget was approved on a party-line vote, with all Republicans voting no.
Hold-harmless provision for struggling school districts
If there was any significant “win” tucked into the recently approved House budget proposal it's this: House Republicans fought for and won an amendment that would provide additional funding to several smaller, mostly rural school districts affected by the recent K-12 education funding model reforms.
During the 2018 McCleary negotiations, a “hold-harmless provision” was included to ensure smaller school districts did not lose funding due to reforms to the state's K-12 funding model. In order to keep our hold-harmless promises, House Republicans hung an amendment on the budget that would provide one-time funding for certain school districts struggling financially.
The policy looks at a school district's current funding and compares it to previous years. Any school district receiving reduced monies, as compared to their 2017-18 allocation, will be provided a one-time funding allocation to bring them back up to the 2017-18 level. This is really good news for several school districts across the state!
The battle for your tax dollars continues…
Senate Democrats also recently released their slightly smaller state operating budget proposal. Both the House and Senate plans require new taxes, but the Senate's proposal spends about $1 billion less of your tax dollars. Over the next few weeks, the two proposals will be debated, discussed and reconciled through tough negotiations in both chambers.
Make your voice heard!
Don't like all these new tax increases? I encourage you to reach out to my office by calling (360) 787-7808 or the Legislative hotline at 1-800-562-600. Better yet, send my email update to other people that might be interested in this information. You can sign-up for my periodic legislative email updates by clicking here.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative!