Senate Democrats pass budget update that ignores opportunities for major tax relief

OLYMPIA… Sen. Lynda Wilson, Senate Republican budget leader, offered the following statement after the Senate’s majority Democrats adopted a 2021-23 supplemental operating budget that represents a spending increase of more than 21% from the previous two-year budget.

Wilson, R-Vancouver, criticized the $63.6 billion budget for failing to turn a record $15 billion budget surplus into significant, direct tax relief for the people of Washington. It passed without Republican support, with all 29 Democrats voting in favor.

“The Democratic majority claims it puts people first, but today it wouldn’t agree to spend one dime from a 15-billion-dollar surplus toward providing permanent, progressive property-tax relief, or a temporary and immediate suspension of the gas tax, or helping our communities respond to public-safety needs.

“Republicans made this budget better with successful amendments in support of domestic-violence victims, and veterans, and long-term care patients, and a closer look at behavioral-health issues. But the majority wouldn’t go along with our other amendments, which would have done significantly more on the critical issues of public safety, affordability, and rebuilding the public trust.

“It says a lot about our Democratic colleagues’ priorities when they approved one of their own amendments to spend 1.75 million dollars on cooperative projects with Finland but rejected our amendment to invest just 40 thousand dollars toward improving trust and transparency, by helping parents become more involved with their children’s schools.

“The Democrats did agree with our proposal to eliminate the sales tax on diapers, after refusing it for more than a year. Other than that, they refused to put any of the massive surplus toward tax relief, beyond a one-year waiver of admission costs for attending fairs and visiting public lands, and a tax exemption for the very smallest of small businesses – all of which they’d added as an afterthought just two days ago.

“The people of our state are trying to deal with the rising costs of food, and fuel, and housing, and energy, on top of the effects of the pandemic. Republicans believe there is no better time than now to let them keep more of their own money. If a 15-billion-dollar surplus isn’t enough to offer tax relief, what is? An opportunity is being lost here that may never come our way again. For that reason, I could not support this legislation. We can and should do better.”