Democrats double-down on their promise for new taxes

2019 legislative session • March 22, 2019 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:  

The revenue forecast provided more good news for our state on Wednesday. It revealed that budget writers will have $50.6 billion in revenue for the 2019-21 budget cycle. To put it in perspective: budget writers had $41.6 billion in revenue in March 2017. I discuss the revenue forecast and what it means for our budget in my weekly video update.

Thank you, taxpayers

It's not said enough in Olympia, but my Republican colleagues and I made the point at our recent news conference: thank you, taxpayers. While parts of our state are still struggling, overall our economy continues to grow and produce more tax collections. This revenue allows us to pay for our state's priorities.   

Democrats double-down on their promise for new taxes

Despite all of this new revenue and good fortune, Democrats are still signaling that they want to raise taxes. Their plans will become clearer next week when they release their budget and revenue proposals. 

The governor put the Democrats in a box when he proposed $3.7 billion in new tax increases in December. Since then, Democrats have really struggled to explain why taxpayers should give them more money. And their case collapsed with the recent revenue forecast. 

Learning from the past

Rep. Ed Orcutt, our member on the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, said it succinctly in a recent statement: "Our state needs to live within its means and fund its priorities within existing revenue. There is no reason to raise taxes.”

Ed is right. He was around in the mid-2000s when Democrats passed irresponsible budgets, spent too much and then had to make painful cuts to programs for vulnerable populations when the recession hit. Now is the time to budget in a responsible way that plans for the inevitable economic downturn.

Recent podcast

Last Friday, I sat down in our radio studio for a podcast. I talked about my impressions of the first 60 days of the session, my role as Leader, our dynamic freshman class, and what to expect in the upcoming weeks. You can find all of my interviews here.

In closing, I'd just like to send my condolences out to the family and friends of the Kittitas County sheriff's deputy who was shot and killed in the line of duty. Our caucus joined in prayer on Wednesday, and I know our members continue to grieve and try to make sense of this tragedy. 

Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7912

Revenue forecast

Key facts about the March revenue forecast:

  • The Near General Fund-State revenue forecast for the 2017-19 biennium has increased by $307 million, and revenue for the 2019-21 biennium has increased by $553.5 million.
  • Despite fairly small changes to the economic forecast, stronger-than-expected taxable activity has resulted in increases to forecasted revenue.
  • Current state spending: $44.4 billion. Revenue available for the 2019-21 biennium: $50.6 billion.

Learn more about the state budget and tax structure:

Rep. Drew Stokesbary

Rep. Drew Stokesbary answers budget and tax questions from reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

Despite record revenue, Democrats propose tax increases

With larger majorities in the Legislature, Democrats have signaled they want to increase state spending beyond the natural growth of state tax collections. This would require them to increase existing taxes or create new taxes. 

There are several proposals on the table and perhaps more to come. Below are bills proposed by Democrats, to date:  

A new capital gains income tax. 
House Bill 1343 | Senate Bill 5129

An elimination of the prohibition on local net income taxes. Senate Bill 5928

A new electricity mandate that would raise utility bills. 
House Bill 1211 | Senate Bill 5116

A new tax/fee on carbon and a gas-tax increase. 
Senate Bill 5971

A B&O tax rate increase for professional services. 
House Bill 1343 | Senate Bill 5129

Various graduated real estate excise tax proposals.  
House Bill 1228 | Senate Bill 5130 | Senate Bill 5582
Senate Bill 5991

A new way to make it easier to raise property taxes. 
House Bill 2145

A new CEO compensation tax.  
House Bill 1681 | House Bill 1778

A possible precursor for creating a new state income tax.
House Bill 2117 | Senate Bill 5973

A new B&O tax on radio and TV stations that air pharmaceutical ads.
Senate Bill 5659   

A new B&O surtax on prescription opioid drugs.
Senate Bill 5940

Higher fees on vehicle registration, license, weight, motor homes. 
Senate Bill 5971

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