No Budget Balance with One-party Rule
By Guest Columnist Nancy Churchill
Washington taxpayers continue to suffer from one-party rule in Washington state. The Democrats own the executive branch, the state House and the state Senate. Next time you open your wallet and wonder why you have less money to spend, you can blame the progressive Democrats of Washington, who believe your income is their pork-barrel piggy bank.
Last week was budget week, and the Democrat-sponsored budget bills were released. Washington state has three budgets—the capitol budget, the transportation budget, and the supplemental operating budget.
The capitol budget (SB 5651), which is also known as the brick-and-mortar budget, is fairly non-controversial. It funds real building projects in each legislative district, and there is a limit to the spending allowed (bit.ly/3vvW5kK).
The supplemental operating budget (SB 5693) is more controversial. With this budget, the Democrats failed to provide any tax relief to lower- and middle-income households, even though there is an historic revenue surplus of about $15 billion. In response, Rep. Drew Stokesbury (R-Auburn) released the “Safe Washington” budget framework to show it’s possible to fund projects and provide tax relief at the same time (bit.ly/3t7zyIc).
Rep. Skyler Rude (R-Walla Walla) also said the state can afford to offer tax relief. “Families… across the entire state, are facing the highest inflation rate in over 40 years, which is costing all of us,” Rude said. “Increasing cost of living is a concern I hear about frequently. With historic revenue collections (a surplus of about $15 billion), we can afford real tax relief for working families without compromising state services. Republicans have also introduced bills this session to provide property tax relief, repeal the long-term care payroll tax, and reduce the B&O tax on sectors which inflation has impacted the most (bit.ly/3ss16cv).”
Unfortunately for the taxpayers of Washington state, one-party control of the legislature means the Democrats will make sure those reasonable budget proposals die in committee, rather than get a good debate and a vote on the floor. It also means that Republican amendments to temper and improve the Supplemental Operating Budget have failed on party-line votes.
The $16 billion transportation budget is even more egregious. This consists of a series of three bills: SB 5974, transportation resources; SB 5975, additive transportation and SB 5689, supplemental transportation. The Democratic caucus chose to exclude Republicans from the development of these budgets. This radical refusal to have open and constructive dialogue with the minority party harms everyone. Rather than considering the constructive criticism and good ideas put forward, the Democrats have chosen to ignore the minority party altogether. As we have seen with public safety and long term care, this will lead to the need to “fix” problem legislation in future sessions.
Republican legislators oppose the funding mechanisms for the transportation budget—increased fees and taxes. One of the proposed taxes on fuel shipped into other states has already prompted Oregon Governor Kate Brown to threaten a trade war with our state (bit.ly/3hljsp0). Other fee increases would jack car tab renewals way up at a time when people are already struggling with higher fuel prices and inflation.
Senate Minority Leader John Braun (R-Centralia) and House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm) were harsh in their assessment of the Democratic budget proposals. “The bottom line is that there’s apparently no state surplus large enough for Democrats to allow the people to keep more of their own money. How many billions more would it take? This approach undermines any attempts at rebuilding public trust” (bit.ly/33Yj0Kh).
You may be the kind of person who wants to ignore politics. Unfortunately, the Democrat politicians are not ignoring you—you’re their piggy bank. This is the time of year when Democratic politicians decide your money is their money, and they know how to spend it better than you. To fund their pet projects, they’re going to take, and take, and take. In only 10 years they’ve gone from $31 billion in spending to an eye-popping $63 billion! That’s coming out of your paycheck at the checkout, the gas pump, in property taxes and fees everywhere!
Now is the time to push back against outrageous taxation and get involved in the process of budgeting. Please visit apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/ and leave a comment on each budget bill—there are only three important ones. One at a time, enter each bill number into the search window, and hit return. Then hit the “comment on this bill” button.
For transportation budget bills SB 5974 and SB 5976, just write “No new taxes or fees in the transportation budget, thank you.” For supplemental budget bill SB 5693, ask to “reduce sales and property taxes; fully fund the rainy-day fund, education, law enforcement, drug court and mental health care.”
Your legislators are listening, and they will use your outcry in the floor debates. It’s time for you to join the fight against unnecessary tax increases. Get involved in the political conversation. Your wallet will thank you.