Senate Democrats tie budget proposal to unconstitutional tax

Best parts of new plan mirror Republican spending ideas, says Wilson

Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver and Republican leader on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, offered this statement about the 2021-23 operating-budget proposal made public today by the state Senate’s Democratic majority.

“The good news is this budget would make some important spending decisions similar to what we included in our Senate Republican budget proposal many weeks ago. It reflects several of our priorities, including more access to broadband, and improving the health of our state-managed forestlands. I’m especially glad to see the investments to support services for people with developmental disabilities, and their families.

“The bad news is how this budget is tied to a tax proposal that is unnecessary, considering the amount of revenue already available as well as unconstitutional. We already know from other states that a tax on income from capital gains is a highly volatile source of revenue. Yet the Democrats have chosen to hitch their budget to a revenue source that is even less reliable – a capital-gains income tax which has a 50-50 chance of being found constitutional, and that’s only if SB 5096 reaches the state Supreme Court. It’s simply not good policy.

“If SB 5096 becomes law, and survives a public referendum, and is found constitutional, revenue from the new income tax wouldn’t even come in before April 2023. There would be only one financial quarter left in the 2021-23 biennium. Why tie a two-year budget to three months’ worth of revenue? Clearly another agenda is at play.

“There are things to like about this budget, and Republicans have ideas for making it better. With a month left in the regular legislative session, we can still capitalize on the opportunities for tax relief and tax reform that made our Republican budget proposal so appealing. But by linking it to an unnecessary, unconstitutional tax that was already rejected by Republicans, the Democrats have guaranteed the Senate budget will be purely partisan. That’s truly disappointing and a lost opportunity to do better by the people of Washington.