OLYMPIA… Sen. Lynda Wilson says the just-concluded legislative session got off to a promising start but ultimately went downhill in a partisan direction, complete with blatant sidestepping of the state constitution on high-profile budget and public-safety legislation.
“We agreed on a fix to the Hirst situation pretty quickly, and I was hopeful that the bipartisan momentum would continue,” said Wilson, R-Vancouver, referring to the Supreme Court case that kept rural property owners from drilling water wells. “But when some of my common-sense bills went dead in the water, like my bill to improve security at Clark College and other CTCs, it was clear that the Senate’s new Democrat majority was choosing politics over policy.”
Wilson’s disappointment level rose significantly Wednesday, the day before lawmakers adjourned, when it became clear that her Democrat colleagues weren’t going to offset the 2018-only property-tax “spike” that the House majority engineered as part of last year’s bipartisan education-funding reforms.
“We’ve known for weeks that state-government revenues are running $2.3 million ahead of expectations. That gave the Legislature a perfect opportunity to effectively roll back the property-tax spike – this year – through a one-time use of one-time money,” Wilson explained.
“Instead, the Senate majority chose to divert $935 million away from the general fund, which has the net effect of preventing a $700 million deposit into the rainy-day fund. It’s the equivalent of robbing the armored truck before it gets to the bank, by sidestepping the constitution,” she added. “In return, taxpayers will see only modest relief from the property-tax spike – only 30 cents on the dollar, and not until next year, when property taxes will be falling anyway due to the reforms passed last year. It’s too little, and too late, and in many ways that sums up the 2018 session.”
There were a few wins late in the session, Wilson said, including the collapse of efforts to impose a new state income tax and a regressive energy tax. But she sees those as being largely overshadowed by the lack of meaningful property-tax relief, the last-minute twisting of Washington’s constitution regarding a citizen initiative about the use of force by law enforcement, and repeated pandering to public-employee unions at the expense of taxpayers.
“When the Senate majority can’t even get behind services that could help veterans attending college and domestic-violence victims who want to be warned when their attackers are nearby – which I proposed in two other bills – it makes for a disappointing session. While I’m glad we adjourned on schedule, I would have stayed at the Capitol longer if it could have brought better results,” Wilson said.