Republican budget proposal – we don’t need to raise your taxes

Sen. Short Banner

February 22, 2021

Dear Friends and Neighbors

We have reached the point in the legislative session where we are busy with floor action – passing bills out of the Senate Chamber and moving them along in the legislative process over to the House of Representatives. As floor leader, I spend many hours in the Senate chamber helping to navigate debate as bills come up for a vote and ensuring that many differing voices and positions on legislation are heard. 

Floor action continues until March 9th. If you want to watch legislation being passed, go to for more information.


Republican budget proposal – we don’t need to raise your taxes

Recently, the Senate Republican lead on the Ways and Means Committee, Lynda Wilson, shared our caucus’ operating budget proposal for 2021-23. I want to share some of those highlights with you but the most important takeaway from this budget is that it will not cut services and will not increase your taxes! When you hear the Democratic majority say that we need to increase taxes to pass our state’s operating budget, it simply isn’t true; we just did it. Some of the highlights include:

  • Increasing the transportation budget without tax increases by adding the sales tax revenue on vehicles to that fund
  • Assists schools with COVID related expenses and incentives to encourage re-opening
  • Additional funding for small business assistance
  • Eliminates the B&O tax on manufacturing
  • Increased funding for behavioral health in the form of increased provider rates, community bed capacity and mental health response teams
  • Annual rate increase for nursing homes to better reflect true costs
  • Increase funding into the DD Community Trust Account for the developmentally disabled
  • Helps reduce the catastrophic wildfires we’ve seen by funding the Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Health Plan – which proposes treating 1.25 million acres in the coming years
  • Provides $200 million to the state Broadband Office
  • Reduces the tax burden for working families by as much as $1,000 per year to help offset recently passed taxes that have burdened local and middle-income families.

This budget gets the people of Washington back to work by making crucial investments to rebuild Washington’s economy. As well-balanced and thoughtful as this budget is, I am very doubtful that the Democratic majority will agree. It is my hope that we have shown them that a budget can be constructed without new taxes and that this budget benefits Washington businesses and families now and for decades to come.


COVID-19 Vaccine update

I am incredibly grateful for the efforts our local healthcare providers and local health districts are making to facilitate coordination among our rural communities to provide much needed COVID vaccines for individuals who want them. I have stepped up to coordinate with them to ensure folks in our communities who are vulnerable to COVID are not left behind amid the tremendous need and the uncertainty surrounding vaccine delivery. 




Capital Gains tax

This year, at the request of Governor Inslee, Senate Bill 5096  was introduced which would impose a 7% tax on the selling of long-term capital assets, or on receiving Washington capital gains beginning January 1, 2022. The argument for implementing this tax is because Washington’s tax code is regressive and unfair and that our state budget is in real trouble due to COVID. In fact, we have sufficient revenue, despite all the shutdowns, to fully fund government without any additional revenue and without cuts in services to those in need. (See Republican budget proposal above). This proposal does little to fix the purported regressive tax code in Washington State. And it negatively impacts farmers, the elderly, small businesses and those individuals who have made smart investments throughout their lives to support retirement and their families, only to have the government take what it does not need. While the bill offers exempted amounts from taxation, there is little understanding of how much accumulated worth that a business or farm has in assets invested over the years or generations.

The initiation of a capital gains tax in our state is a ruse. It keeps focus on “taxing the wealthiest” while the larger, strategic issue remains hidden. It is clear that this is an unconstitutional tax and, if passed, a lawsuit will quickly follow. The IRS clearly defines that capital gains are treated as income in the tax code. The State Supreme Court has also clearly ruled that income is property. As such, it must be taxed evenly; meaning everyone pays the same rate.

This legislation has been introduced in hopes that the Supreme Court will reverse its previous decisions that income is property. If that happens, it is almost certain that the next step will be to introduce a graduated income tax in Washington state within the next 2-3 years.

We don’t need additional revenue to balance the budget, we don’t need new taxes. Starting with the wealthiest in our state just opens the door to the long-term strategic goal to implement future taxes that will certainly affect all of our pocketbooks.


Bills I’m sponsoring this year

I recently shared with you some of the bills I’ve introduced this session. One of these bills, Senate Bill 5275, was passed out of the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee and will now be voted on by the entire Senate body soon. Here’s a little bit more about it:

  • Senate Bill 5275 would create more opportunity for more intense rural development in eastern Washington. This bill would give these rural communities modest, but currently non-existent, flexibility in development planning which could allow housing and small business opportunities reflecting local character.


Bill of concern – Senate Bill 5042

Senate Bill 5042 damages certainty and vesting for builders who rely upon regulations and land use plans of local governments to make land acquisition and development plans. It shifts long-standing presumption that laws and regulations are legal until courts determine they are not. Under this bill, and only in the instance of the Growth Management Act, local laws would be considered unlawful until courts mad a final decision. In many instances, counties face years of challenge (think of Ferry County!) before plans are approved by the hearings board or a court of law. This will undermine the state’s ability to deal with housing shortage, lack of affordable housing and tangentially to homelessness. We cannot allow laws like this to pass. So far this bill has yet to move forward. I hope that it doesn’t.


floor speaking


I’m here for you!

As we continue working remotely this year, please remember that your participation in the legislative process is more important than ever to ensure that the legislature keeps “of the people” front and center in its decision-making. If there is anything I can do to help you participate, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached by phone at (360) 786-7612 and by email at

I look forward to communicating with you during session.  It is an incredible privilege to serve as your state senator and be your voice. If you need anything at all, my office is here for you.



Shelly Short