Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As many of you know our economy is just beginning to recover and, as a result, we have over $3 billion in additional revenue for the 2015-17 biennium. Despite that fact, the House Democrat spending proposal, which raises taxes by $1.5 billion, passed the House floor with a 51-47 party-line vote yesterday afternoon.
It is just plain irresponsible to raise taxes on hard-working families and businesses when we have over $3 billion in new revenue at our disposal. Especially when doing so can very easily stifle the growth we're currently seeing.
Very simply, the House Democrats' proposal increases state spending by a total of $5.2 billion, growing the state budget from $33.8 billion to nearly $39 billion. To put that into perspective, state spending has nearly doubled over the past 15 years, and the majority party still doesn't think we spend enough. I believe it is long past time we prioritize our spending, live within our means, and honor our commitment to be fiscally responsible.
Here is a breakdown of the House Democrat's proposal:
• $39 billion total spending
• $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes
• Suspends the state spending limit
• Freezes tuition for higher education
• $1.4 billion for education spending to meet basic education requirements
• Includes cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for state and school employees
Additionally, here is a look at every tax increase proposed by the House Democrats:
- A new capital gains income tax on individuals
- Raises the business and occupation tax on:
- services people use including accountants and tax preparers, car dealers, job counselors and many others that employ thousands of Washingtonians
- prescription drug sellers, affecting prices on medications many rely on, including those on fixed incomes and the elderly
- people earning income from copyrights and patents on products they created or developed.
- Internet sales tax on purchases made online from companies that don't have a physical presence in Washington like eBay and Etsy
- Taxes the purchase of real estate foreclosures
- this hurts those on a fixed income trying to stay in their homes
- Increases tax on extracted fuel and refineries at a time we should be improving domestic energy production
- this hurts those who have to travel to find work
- Raises sales tax on out-of-state shoppers by making them file for an exemption, reducing competitiveness with neighboring states
- This hurts border communities and will drive down state sales tax collections
- Taxes bottled water purchases
- Unfairly targets low and middle-income buyers that are dependent upon alternative sources of water.
- Most importantly, this was repealed by 60 percent of the voters through the initiative process the last time it was offered as a solution.
A viable alternative
Earlier this week, Senate Republicans released their own budget, which does NOT rely on new tax increases to fund our basic obligations. Debate began last night and continued well into this morning. A final vote on the budget will likely come on Monday.
- $38 billion total spending
- Does not mortgage the future with a large debt increase
- No new tax increases
- This will help our economy continue to grow
- Does not suspend state spending limit
- Ensures we will live within our means
- Fully funds education
- Cuts college tuition by 25 percent, the first reduction since the 1970s
- $1.3 billion for education spending to meet basic education requirements
- I am proud to say this budget includes cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for state and school employees, as I have been a long-time supporter of restoring the COLA
Our constitutional mandate is clear: funding basic education is our paramount duty. I believe the best way to address this is by funding education first. With $3 billion in additional revenue through growth, we have the means to meet this important obligation without raising taxes. It appears, however, the House majority would rather rely on tax increases which pick winners and losers than prioritize education. The Senate has offered a plan to meet these obligations without raising taxes. I believe that is the solution we must consider and is a better direction for our state.
Given the $3 billion growth in revenue, I believe we have the means – and a duty – to pass a responsible, sustainable, and balanced budget without relying on tax increases. As soon as the Senate passes its budget, negotiations will begin between the two chambers. I sincerely hope we can come to an agreement on a long-term, sustainable budget that won't burden the taxpayers, and future generations, of this state.