Democrats stay with high-tax budget that will hit low-income, marginalized communities harder

OLYMPIA… The final 2021-23 operating-budget agreement made public this afternoon by the Legislature’s majority Democrats is still a step backwards for Washington’s low-income families and marginalized communities, say budget leaders in the Senate Republican Caucus.

Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, and Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, also are critical of how legislators and the public are being given so little time to examine the $59.2 billion compromise, negotiated by Senate and House Democrats, before the 2021 legislative session ends tomorrow.

Wilson, Republican leader on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, made this comment:

“By waiting so late to make this final agreement public, the Democrats have ensured the public won’t really know what’s in the budget before it reaches the governor. That lack of transparency is wrong, because it prevents the people from raising their voices against the regressive and unnecessary new taxes the majority supports through this budget – the new income tax, the new tax on energy, even a new cellphone tax.

“If the people look at the Democrat compromise and the Senate Republican budget side by side, they’ll get a clear vision of how it’s the majority’s tax-and-spend versus our save-and-invest. And the people should be outraged that stealth language embedded in the capital-gains income-tax bill would prohibit a voter referendum challenging the tax.

“The Democrats complain that our state’s tax system is regressive, but they’re sticking with a budget that sticks it to low-income and marginalized communities. Even the money families will receive from the new Working Families Tax Credit is going to be wiped out by the new Democrat policies that will raise the costs of fuel and energy. I can understand why they’d want to slip this budget past the people as quickly and quietly as possible.”

Brown, assistant Republican leader on Ways and Means, offered this assessment:

“With so much money flowing into the state coffers, there was a chance for us to maintain important services, reduce the tax burden on families and small businesses, and save for the future. Instead, the majority pushed through a budget that runs through most of the rainy-day fund and still relies on nearly a dozen or so regressive tax hikes and fees and the creation of an unconstitutional income tax.”