State budgets and a step toward a state income tax

2018 legislative session • February 23, 2018 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:  

It was budget week in the Legislature. Democrats, who control both chambers, released their supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets. These proposals represent midcourse changes to these two-year state budgets.

Our former caucus budget lead Tom Huff used to say that supplemental budgets are for unanticipated changes, correcting technical errors, emergencies and opportunities that may not be available the following budget cycle. We've always tried to adhere to these principles. This year, budget writers must decide what, if anything, to do with a surplus of tax collections as a result of our state economy performing well.

House Democrats' supplemental operating budget 

We debated the House Democrats' supplemental operating budget tonight, including several amendments. We will conclude our debate on Monday evening. Rep. Bruce Chandler, our lead on the House Appropriations Committee, released this statement on the plan earlier in the week. He brings up good points, including concerns about the growth of state spending and budget sustainability. 

The push for a capital gains income tax

The House Democrats' supplemental operating budget relies on a capital gains income tax. I'm not aware of anyone in our caucus who supports this new tax. 

Make no mistake: This would be a major step toward a state income tax -- an idea that has been rejected several times by voters. It would also be a volatile revenue stream that could be struck down by the courts. You can learn more about this tax in this Washington Research Council policy brief.

Budget writers ignore governor's carbon tax

While House and Senate Democratic budget writers ignored the governor's carbon tax proposal, it did advance out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday. That means it's still alive in the legislative process despite not appearing in the supplemental budgets. We'll see what happens.  

Tax relief, not tax increases  

For Republicans, it's hard to understand why there would be support for any type of tax-increase proposal when our state is experiencing robust tax collections. Instead, we should be advancing proposals that provide statewide property tax relief and car-tab relief for people in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties that are experiencing sticker shock as a result of Sound Transit 3. We have put solutions on the table that, to date, Democrats have rejected.

The homestretch

Just 13 days remain in session. Critical issues that could affect you directly still need to be sorted out. This is a great time for you to be involved in the legislative process.

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7967

Rep. Drew Stokesbary

Leadership podcast:
Rep. Drew Stokesbary

In the longest and most wide-ranging interview this year, Assistant Floor Leader Drew Stokesbary joined our Leadership Podcast this week to discuss an array of issues. The youngest member of our Leadership Team discusses his responsibilities, how his degrees from Notre Dame Law School and Duke University help him as a state lawmaker, the challenges facing his communities, what it's like to serve with his father-in-law, and how the Legislature can provide property tax relief this year.   

Seven things to watch for

  • What new investments will be made in education, mental health and other possible areas in the supplemental operating budget?
  • It's clear Republicans and Democrats want to provide property-tax relief. How will the state structure this and will property owners see tax relief this year?
  • Will House Democrats follow through on passing a capital gains income tax?
  • What, if anything, will happen to a version of the governor's controversial carbon tax that has now passed two Senate committees?
  • Will residents of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties experiencing sticker shock as a result of Sound Transit 3 get meaningful car-tab relief?
  • Will anything be done to help bring broadband and better Internet access to rural and coastal communities? 
  • Will B&O tax parity be provided for manufacturing in our state?   

Stories: Listening, helping and leading

As state lawmakers, we know that every bill and amendment we pass means something to someone. Sometimes the decisions we make have a big impact on a lot of people's lives, while other votes affect a small universe of people. Either way, we know our actions are consequential for Washingtonians.

We have compiled stories of people who brought ideas to us. We listened, we helped and we moved these ideas through the legislative process. You can learn more about some of these stories here.

Protecting children with autism

One of these stories is about protecting children with autism through the Travis Alert Act. It includes a caring parent, a courageous child and a motivated state lawmaker -- Rep. Gina McCabe. Learn more about this story here.

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