OLYMPIA… Despite a budget surplus that climbed to a record $15 billion with the year’s first revenue forecast, the state Senate’s majority Democrats failed to include direct tax relief in the 2021-23 supplemental operating budget they proposed this morning.
Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, made the following comment after seeing how the majority’s $63.7 billion proposal would add nearly $5 billion more in spending to the two-year spending plan passed in April 2021.
“It’s beyond belief that the majority can’t find space within a 15-billion-dollar surplus for anything that qualifies as significant, direct tax relief. How can they possibly justify this to people who are finding it unaffordable to live in our state, between the rising prices for gas, food, housing, and electricity, the economic struggles brought on by the pandemic, and all the new taxes and fees they have adopted – and are pursuing again this session, with no end in sight?
“All along Republicans have proposed using part of the surplus to make a real difference for Washington families, like our legislation to make owning a home more affordable and promote good, family-wage jobs in our state’s manufacturing sector. The majority clearly has other priorities – instead of direct tax relief for the people, they put more than 1,000 other things into this proposal that would make government larger in one way or another. The tax incentives amount to crumbs, and the biggest beneficiaries of those are credit-card companies and Hollywood.
“Even though this proposal represents a 21-percent increase in spending over the 2019-21 budget, it knocks K-12 education down to less than 44 percent of spending. That’s indefensible, when providing for basic education is the state’s paramount duty, and especially considering what has happened during the pandemic. When Republicans had a voice in the budget, we returned K-12 to its rightful place, which means accounting for more than half of the general fund. There’s also nothing here that would help re-establish public safety, which should be a priority for the entire Legislature – the wins in this proposal are for inmates, not our communities.
“The Senate Democratic budget leaders made it clear in their comments about this proposal that they see significant tax relief as a threat to the sustainability of their spending choices. That’s no excuse, when Republicans have shown that the Legislature can provide significant, direct, sustainable tax relief with less than one-third of the surplus. The message from the majority is that there will never be a good time to let taxpayers keep more of their own money – which is not the way to rebuild public trust in government. If Republicans were in charge of the budget, we would find room for the taxpayers.”