Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With just a few weeks left in the 2013 legislative session, the budget action is starting to heat up. The governor released his budget proposal (details below) which includes about $1.2 billion in new and increased taxes. The bipartisan Senate Majority Coalition Caucus released their budget as well, which did not raise taxes. I expect House Democrats to release their budget proposal soon and then the real negotiations begin. I've said from the beginning, with almost $2 billion more coming into the state over the next two-year budget cycle, tax increases should not be part of our budget solution. Our economy is too fragile right now and folks are still trying to find work.
Six months ago, gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee was finally cornered by the Seattle Times about what he would do about taxes if he were elected governor:
“I would veto anything that heads the wrong direction and the wrong direction is new taxes in the state of Washington.” – Jay Inslee, Seattle Times, Oct. 12, 2012
Last week, his budget proposal included over $1.2 billion in new and increased taxes. His excuse for being caught in this lie? Semantics. Political wordsmithing. He thinks that eliminating certain tax incentives on small businesses and other employers shouldn't qualify as “new taxes.” Well, governor, tell that to the barber, beauty shop owner, janitor, music teacher or veterinarian who will have their taxes go up because of your proposals.
Even Democrat Treasurer Jim McIntire thinks employers are taxed too much in our state. Here's what he said to the Association of Washington Business last week (click here to read the entire article):
“You don't often hear a Democrat say we over-tax business, but we do. I want to be really clear that it's a problem in the state.” – Jim McIntire, State Treasurer, March 21, 2013
Here's a quick snapshot of Gov. Inslee's tax proposals:
MAKING 'TEMPORARY' TAXES PERMANENT
- 50-cent beer tax, and expanding it to microbreweries ($127 million)
- 0.3 percent B&O tax on service businesses ($534 million), including:
- barbers and beauty shop owners
- music teachers
- real estate agents
- school bus operators
- vehicle trade-ins when purchasing a new car: $94.8 million
- local residential phone service: $83.2 million
- computer software: $78.5 million
- most state businesses that were given lower rates in order to locate or expand in Washington: $66.2 million
- non-residents who shop in Washington stores: $63.7 million
- bottled water: $51.5 million
- recycled fuel environmental programs at Washington's oil refineries: $40.8 million
- resellers of prescription drugs: $29 million
- long-term rental of commercial land/buildings: $27.8 million
- import commerce: $24.1 million
- farm equipment: $5.6 million
I firmly believe we can and should balance the budget without raising taxes. The most recent economic and revenue update for Washington state shows we have a fragile economy. Raising taxes only leads to uncertainty for employers thinking of locating or expanding in Washington. Getting Washington working not only increases tax collections, it helps struggling individuals and families. A working Washington means prosperity for families and a government that helps young people succeed, supports healthy commerce, protects people from crime, helps the vulnerable and is accountable to its taxpayers.
What do you think? Do you think repealing a tax incentive for employers is the same as increasing taxes? Click here to take a quick poll question.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing for Senate Bill 5187 sponsored by my seatmate, Sen. John Smith. If you recall, this is the bill which would give people the right to protect their property and their pets from a gray wolf attack.
John Stevie, who witnessed the near-fatal attack of his 60-pound dog Shelby by a gray wolf March 10, came from Twisp to testify in favor of the bill and brought Shelby along to show the severity of the dog's wounds from of the wolf attack. While committee members were moved by Stevie's testimony and the presence of Shelby, they weren't impacted enough to take a vote on the bill. As of today, it looks like this bill is dead.
If you want to watch my video update on the wolf bill, click here. It also has a short segment on the death of House Bill 1588, the universal background check bill that many of you have been concerned about.
Caption: (left to right) Seventh District State Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short, Shelby with owner Sharon Willoya, Okanogan County Commissioner Ray Campbell and Pend Oreille County Commissioner Karen Skoog. Sen. John Smith is located directly behind Rep. Short.
The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee recently held a “Climate Change Workshop.” Dr. Don Easterbrook, a geology professor emeritus from Western Washington University, was one of the key speakers. He contends that global warming is primarily caused by natural processes. His presentation and testimony was fantastic! He was able to counter several questions from committee members with hard facts and scientific data. Some of the “back and forth” between Dr. Easterbrook and the more liberal Senators, especially Sen. Ranker (a strong wolf proponent), was priceless! If you have a moment, I highly recommend watching the committee workshop by clicking the picture on the left.
Once again, thank you for reading my e-newsletter. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about state government or the issues we're facing in the Legislature. It is always a pleasure to hear from you, and it is an honor to serve you in Olympia.
427A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7908 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000