Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As expected, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus released their budget proposal this week. It's a good first step in crafting a budget solution that takes care of our priorities without raising taxes. If you want to read more about their budget proposal, click here.
I expect the House Democrats to release their budget proposal next week. It will most likely look very similar to Gov. Jay Inslee's budget – lots of new revenue (MORE TAXES). Once the House and Senate budgets are made public, the real negotiations begin. There will be people lined up for committee hearings to talk about their specific program or priority. I oftentimes wonder who lobbies for the taxpayers – the ones who have to pay for state government services. Speaking of taxes…
Gov. Inslee's budget breaks campaign promise
Last week, I talked about Gov. Inslee's tax package and how he was going back on his campaign promise to not raise taxes. If you recall, six months ago, gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee was finally cornered by the Seattle Times about what he would do about taxes if he were elected governor:
“I would veto anything that heads the wrong direction and the wrong direction is new taxes in the state of Washington.” – Jay Inslee, Seattle Times, Oct. 12, 2012
As I mentioned last week, his budget proposal included over $1.2 billion in new and increased taxes. He apparently thinks that eliminating certain tax incentives on small businesses and other employers shouldn't qualify as “new taxes.” I wonder if the barber, beauty shop owner, janitor, music teacher or veterinarian who will have their taxes go up because of Gov. Inslee's proposals would feel the same?
Even Democrat Treasurer Jim McIntire thinks employers are taxed too much in our state. Here's what he said to the Association of Washington Business last week (click here to read the entire article):
“You don't often hear a Democrat say we over-tax business, but we do. I want to be really clear that it's a problem in the state.” – Jim McIntire, State Treasurer, March 21, 2013
I firmly believe we can and should balance the budget without raising taxes. The most recent economic and revenue update for Washington state shows we have a fragile economy. Raising taxes only leads to uncertainty for employers thinking of locating or expanding in Washington. Getting Washington working not only increases tax collections, it helps struggling individuals and families. A working Washington means prosperity for families and a government that helps young people succeed, supports healthy commerce, protects people from crime, helps the vulnerable and is accountable to its taxpayers.
What do you think? Do you think repealing a tax incentive for employers is the same as increasing taxes? Click here to let me know.
House Democrats rethink their 10-cent gas tax increase
The public backlash over the House Democrats' proposed 10-cent increase to the state gas tax has been deafening. We've seen poll numbers of 80-90 percent AGAINST raising the gas tax. It's hard to sell the public on the need for higher gas taxes when so much money is wasted by a transportation system in desperate need of reform. This week, the House released a transportation budget that does NOT include an gas tax increase. You can read a summary of the budget here.
We had a little bit of fun this week. For my 55th birthday, friends, colleagues, legislators and legislative staff surprised me with cake and other goodies. They yelled “Surprise” with a bunch of “Schmick on a stick” faces. It was pretty funny and we all enjoyed some cake that apparently has two meanings: my age and propensity to nudge my car over the speed limit just a bit while driving back and forth to Olympia. All-in-all, we had a good time.
Thanks for reading my e-newsletter. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about state government or the issues we're facing in Olympia. It is an honor to serve you.