The budget debate

2019 legislative session • April 12, 2019 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

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This set-up language for a recent Puget Sound Business Journal article also happens to summarize where we stand in the legislative session: "With Democrats now controlling both chambers of the Legislature, tax hikes are likely to pass. The question is how high they'll go." 

Democrats continue to stand by their position that taxes must be increased, despite record state tax collections and a budget surplus. There are a lot of meetings taking place, mostly behind closed doors, to determine what taxes should be raised or created, and by how much. And there is already talk of a possible special session.

An unsettling time for Washingtonians

As you can imagine, this is an unsettling time for taxpayers, employers and other stakeholders who are bracing for what could come next. We are hearing from many of these people and they are understandably upset. How they are being treated is unfair and unnecessary.

What is disappointing is that there is a pathway to a no-new-taxes, sustainable operating budget that funds our state's priorities. Rep. Drew Stokesbary and Sen. John Braun have made this case, with the revenue forecast only solidifying it. 

Moving the budget debate 

There is some hope though. The Senate Democrats' operating budget, while not perfect, pushed the budget debate to the center in terms of spending levels and reliance on tax increases. Republicans are doing everything possible to move this debate toward a fiscally responsible approach. I discussed the budget and taxes in my video update today.

Many important decisions will be made in the next 16 days. We hope you lend your voice to the debates at this critical time. 


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

Capital gains income tax

Rep. Brandon Vick explains why the Democrats' proposed capital gains income tax is unconstitutional, unreliable and unnecessary in this video. The House Democrats' operating budget relies on this new controversial tax on income. You can also click on the image below to watch the video.

Rep. Brandon Vick

Graduated REET

The real estate excise tax (REET) is a tax on the sale of real estate, usually paid by the seller of the property.

The state REET rate is .0128, with city and county rates varying. According to the state Department of Revenue: “Of the net proceeds to the state, 2% goes into the public works assistance account, 4.1% to the education legacy account with remaining amounts going to the general fund.”

The governor and Democrats have targeted this tax and want many individuals and corporations to pay a lot more through what they call a graduated REET. Basically, they want to create different state REET rates based on the selling price. The higher the price, the higher the rate. Time will tell where the Democrats ultimately land on these graduated rates. 

The problem with this approach is it would make our affordable housing crisis even worse by constricting the supply of new housing. It would also burden renters through increased costs. Lastly, as you would expect, it would be bad for our state economy. 

Democrats divided on consumer data bill

Senate Bill 5376, which would protect consumer data, passed the Senate 46-1. Democrats on the House Innovation, Technology and Economic Development Committee amended the legislation before sending it to the House Appropriations Committee. That's where things melted down. 

The House Appropriations Committee failed to pass Senate Bill 5376 on Monday, so the measure appeared dead. However, with just two-hours' notice on Tuesday, Democrats called for a committee meeting for the sole purpose of acting on the legislation. On a party-line vote, House Democrats stripped the measure down to basically a title-only bill. In other words, an empty bill with a promise to work on new language.  

Rep. Drew Stokesbary released a statement on this unusual situation, which includes some of his committee remarks from Tuesday.    

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