One of the biggest issues remaining in this year’s legislative session is whether the majority party will push through a massive transportation package that includes 33 tax increases.
Yes, you read that correctly. At a time of record revenue, some lawmakers in Olympia are proposing 33 tax increases to pay for the state’s transportation priorities.
I support infrastructure and transportation investments, but we do not need to raise taxes. We have more than enough state and federal funds at our disposal this year to pay for all of the improvements in the package with existing resources.
Normally, such packages are introduced early in the year. There is bipartisan vetting and public input, and compromises are reached after long negotiations. This year, however, the package was unveiled late, allowing for little to no input from fellow legislators and the public.
I will share with you what I know: The House package includes $22.3 billion of new spending over a 16-year period and a list of projects. The Senate package includes $17.8 billion of new spending over a 16-year period and a list of projects.
House leaders do not say how they would pay for their package, including how much they would raise taxes. It looks like they’re deferring to their Senate colleagues on that important matter.
The Senate’s package would rely on 33 new fees and tax increases to pay for their proposals. Here are a few of them:
9.8 cent increase on the state gas tax. This would make Washington’s gas tax the highest in the nation; new cap-and-tax system; new statewide a tax on new construction; an increase in sales tax on auto parts; an increase in car and motorcycle license-plate fees; an increase in title fees on car registrations or sales; an increase in standard driver’s license and Identicards fees; an increase in enhanced driver’s license and Identicards fees; an increase in personal trailer fees; an increase in motor home weight fees; new fees on third-party food deliveries and for-hire vehicles; watercraft excise tax; pay-by-the-mile charges to replace car-tab fees on electric and hybrid cars.
Our communities face a fragile economic recovery, and these packages would hurt those families and businesses that are struggling financially. There is never a good time to raise taxes, but perhaps the worst time to do so is when our state is attempting to recover from the fallout of a pandemic.