Friends and Neighbors,
As the Legislature wraps up the third week of session I'm reminded of the old saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Between Gov. Inslee and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, we've heard a lot of proposals this week to raise your taxes to increase government spending. But, as is typical in Olympia these days, there's far too little talk about improving the economy and getting people back to work. Here's my take on the week's events:
Gov: Raise taxes by $200,000,000
Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday proposed a $200 million tax hike. He claims it would be to pay for teacher cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) and school materials – even though the Legislature last year boosted K-12 funding by $1.5 billion.
Far too often I've seen budget writers move education money to social services, then come back and demand more from taxpayers. We need to review and revise past and current spending, and prioritize education – not raise taxes.
The governor wants to repeal seven different tax exemptions:
- Vehicle trade-ins valued at more than $10,000 – which would cost you more money the next time you buy a replacement automobile.
- Interstate transportation – would increase the cost of goods you buy.
- Recycled fuel used on-site in manufacturing – which could add to the retail price of gasoline.
- Nonresidents (sales tax) – would hurt retailers who depend on out-of-state shoppers.
- Bottled water – would tax you for making a healthy choice.
- Janitorial services – would add costs to employers, especially small businesses.
- Prescription drugs (business tax) – would add to the cost of your prescription medications (aren't they already expensive enough?!)
None of this is new. These tax increases have all been proposed before – some of them numerous times. In fact, in 2010 Washington voters overwhelmingly repealed the sales tax on bottled water (and carbonated beverages) that the Legislature and governor had imposed.
Raising these taxes wasn't a good idea then, and it's not a good idea now. Our economy is still too fragile and we have too many people still out of work more than five years after the recession started.
We need to keep the focus on jobs
This week the House debated a bill to impose mandatory paid “sick and safe” leave on all employers with five or more employees. If this bill were to become law, I believe it would have a devastating effect on job-creators, especially small business owners. You can watch my floor speech here.
As I mentioned in that speech, we still have 37,000 people unemployed five years after the recession started. If you consider population growth, we would realistically have to add 100,000 jobs in order to get back to our pre-recession employment levels. So the last thing we should be doing is punishing job-creators. We should do everything in our power to support them and enable them to rehire laid-off workers.
Thank you for your time. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. Go Seahawks!