STATEMENT: Republican budget leader pans Democrats’ ‘wealth tax’ proposal

OLYMPIA… The budget leader for the state’s Senate Republicans isn’t buying the idea that Washington needs to slap another tax on residents who are financially successful. Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, offered these remarks about the so-called “wealth tax” proposed today by Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives:

“On the surface this may have a Robin Hood kind of appeal, but that’s just not enough to make it a good idea. The sponsors know this is constitutionally questionable but are charging ahead anyway. It’s how the state income tax was adopted: push the tax through and cross your fingers that the judicial branch will ultimately come to your rescue. We need less legislating from the bench and more listening to the people.

“The ‘wealth tax’ didn’t make the list of tax options recently recommended to the Legislature by the bipartisan Tax Structure Work Group. You wonder why the Democratic chair of that work group decided to introduce the Senate version of this bill, even though her colleagues on the work group decided the idea wasn’t worth further consideration.

“State government has 6 billion dollars in reserve. Maintaining the programs and services in the current budget will cost 1.5 billion. A lot of good can be done with even a portion of what’s left. The Robin Hood angle falls apart completely when you see the revenue from this tax is aimed at growing government, with no promise of any real tax relief. And why talk about new taxes when the focus should be on using the existing revenue wisely?

“These bills repeat the Democrats’ myth that Washington has the most regressive tax system in the nation. Let’s keep in mind these Democrats just last year refused to join with Republicans on two pieces of progressive tax reform – one to lower the state sales tax, the second being my bill to offer a property-tax exemption that would have benefited owners of lower-value property more. At the same time they have created new laws that increase costs related to driving and energy, both of which hit lower-income people harder. If the Democrats truly want to help people at lower income levels, they should stop supporting regressive taxes and fees, and lower or eliminate the ones they’ve created. A ‘wealth tax’ doesn’t do any of that.”