As we enter week six of this year’s legislative session, the debate over our state’s budgets is heating up. It’s important you know the facts.
Washington state has three budgets – operating, transportation and capital. These two-year spending plans are developed and passed in odd-numbered years, like this one, and adjusted, as needed, during even-numbered years.
The operating budget, the largest of the three, pays for K-12 education, higher education, corrections, human services and other government operations. It’s primarily funded by state taxes that are, unfortunately, already very high — especially considering the pandemic’s impact on our families and businesses.
That’s why it’s surprising to hear some Democrat legislators claim that, in order to prevent cuts, taxes need to be raised. Among the new taxes being considered: a low-carbon fuel standard mandate, carbon tax, state gas tax increase, new transportation fees, an income tax on capital gains and others.
I strongly disagree with this approach. It’s never a good time to increase costs on individuals, families, and businesses, but perhaps the worst time to do so is during a pandemic. We don’t have a revenue problem in our state, we have a spending problem. And we have a discipline problem.
My Republican colleagues are releasing an operating budget plan this week that provides COVID-19 relief, funds other important state priorities and makes some common-sense spending adjustments — without raising taxes. It offers a no-tax-increase alternative to the majority party’s expanded spending plan.
My colleague and the top Republican on the House Finance Committee, Rep. Ed Orcutt, summed it up recently when he said, “We don’t need more taxes; we need more tax relief.”
This legislative session should be about delivering financial relief to people and businesses in the short-term, setting the stage for an economic recovery and being mindful of the long-term effects of new policies. It should not be just another opportunity to raise taxes on the citizens of Washington state.