Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've turned the corner of the final stretch in the 105-day regular session. This is the stretch where our efforts focus on passing balanced and sustainable operating, capital and transportation budgets for the 2019-21 biennium.
With that being said, I've been hard at work helping write and influence my first budget as the assistant ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee. I'm proud to say the 2019-21 House transportation budget is the only budget proposal of six you will see this year that is fiscally responsible and balanced. It not only funds critical infrastructure needs and brings millions of dollars back into the 26th District, it does it without raising your taxes!
Unfortunately, the news surrounding the 2019-21 House operating budget isn't good. Despite historical revenue growth and a $3 billion surplus, Democrats still want to increase your taxes by more than $4 billion over the next four years! This urge to tax and spend is unnecessary, out-of-control, and unrelated to actual need. Under this proposal, spending would increase by 70 percent since 2013, just prior to my time in Olympia. This level of explosive growth is not responsible or sustainable. I voted against this budget for these reasons.
The TAX SHOE has dropped!
Now that the House operating budget passed on party-line votes, the tax shoe has dropped! Below is an in-depth video explaining the three massive tax bills that were just introduced and are quickly making their way through the legislative process. You can view the video by clicking on the photo below. For more details on this anti-transparent tax package, please continue reading this update.
As the assistant ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee, I've seen firsthand just how bad things are. Just last week, with very little time left in session, the Democrats dropped their tax bills. They've kept them shielded for the majority of session.
In essence, what they've done is submit three very massive tax bills limiting public awareness and effectively keeping the details at bay.
Let me highlight them for you.
Problem #1: On Friday, the House Finance Committee heard House Bill 2158 – the massive three-tiered B&O tax bill. In a nutshell, what this does is raise B&O taxes on your medical providers and jacks up the costs for local health care, especially for low-income people and doctors who serve Medicaid patients. According to testimony, this is going to eliminate Medicaid care and services for many fixed-care individuals. Even with the short notice, doctors and health care providers are strongly against this bill. They were very clear – this bill will hurt Medicaid patients!
Problem #2: Another major issue facing the Legislature surrounds the lack of low-income housing. This bill exacerbates the low-income housing problem by raising costs to builders that are building these projects.
Democrats want to massively raise taxes in these two areas. We had testimony from health care practitioners and builders saying this bill would kill their industries.
I also exchanged dialogue with Rowland Thompson of the Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington – another industry that will be severely hit with these new B&O tax proposals. Our dialogue was specific to the anti-transparent scheme happening on this proposal. To watch our conversation, click here.
Needless to say, the media is concerned with the procedural anti-transparency aspects of its passage. To watch the full committee hearing, click here.
And, finally, to one of the larger tax bills – House Bill 2156 – the capital gains income tax, or what Democrats are calling an “excise” tax.
Let's be perfectly clear. This is an income tax, and it is unconstitutional. They have tried before, in sessions now long past, to claim that a capital gains tax is not an income tax, that it's an excise tax, and have tried to push their legislation through but it has failed. Why? Because a capital gains tax is an income tax which violates our state constitution. So, this effort is not only a waste of time and resources, it's going to fail again and not produce the revenue they want.
I don't know what's worse: the actual proposals of these bills or the fact that the Democrats are trying to stomp down and scrub out transparency by working hard to hide these bills from your purview.
What is a ghost bill?
I haven't even gotten to the worst part yet. Have you ever heard of a ghost bill? This is a bill with just a title and a sentence as the description. That's right, it contains no bill language. None! Bills like this are introduced to circumvent our state constitutional protection for transparency on new bills introduced in the last days of session. Democrats introduced House Bill 2140 – a bill with just the title of K-12 education funding account, with a single sentence description. That's it.
What could happen with this type of bill, and how could it circumvent transparency? The bill could pass through committee; then through the Rules committee; then when it gets to the House floor, Democrats could amend the bill by striking out the single-sentence description and add something in its place. This is one scenario that could happen.
This is completely unprofessional and every legislator should stand against this tactic. Furthermore, I wonder if this will be the massive carbon tax bill we've been waiting for. The same bill that you – the voters – have shut down multiple times when it's appeared on your ballot. Remember, voters just rejected this proposal in November. I wonder if that's why they're hiding the real language of the bill. We'll see what happens.
It's time to stand for transparency!
I challenge the governor to veto any of these tax bills I've just talked about.
Last year, the Legislature attempted to rush through an anti-transparency bill late in session that caused an uproar with the media. I was only one of 21 legislators to vote against this bill and was praised by the press for doing so. When this bill reached the governor's desk, he stood for transparency and vetoed it because of the anti-transparent process.
He stood for transparency then, he should stand for transparency now.
I encourage you to call your state lawmakers and tell them this is unacceptable and to not vote on any bill that's being rushed through the process with no transparency. The toll free number is 800-562-6000.
I want you to know I have been hard at work doing the job you sent me to do in Olympia as your state representative. You can trust that I'll roll up my sleeves to keep my promise and get things done for you.
For more legislative updates, please follow my legislative Facebook page.
It's an honor to serve you.