Reps. Orcutt, Walsh propose to return portion of surplus revenue through property tax relief

Reps. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, and Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, issued the following statement on their recently introduced state property-tax relief proposal.

“Our state has a $2.4 billion budget surplus. The Legislature should give some of this extraordinary revenue back to Washingtonians through tax relief,” said Orcutt, chair of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. “What I am hearing from constituents is that they want property tax relief. House Bill 2954 would reduce the state property tax rate over three years. Our state can provide this tax relief, fund its essential priorities and still be prepared for an economic downturn.”

“There’s no doubt the taxpayers of Washington state are demanding tax relief. The real goal should be how to deliver that to them,” said Walsh, 19th Legislative District. “Reducing property taxes is the best step forward in assuring a continued thriving economy for our state. It’s better than contributing to the rainy-day fund and better than funding short-term projects. It’s time for the Legislature to return some money to the pocketbooks of the people of Washington.”

In response to the McCleary decision, in which the Washington State Supreme Court ruled K-12 basic education had not been adequately funded, the Legislature passed a measure in 2017 that locked in the state property tax rate at $2.70 per $1,000 assessed value through 2021. Prior to that, state property taxes were budget-based—which means the rate was determined by the amount of funding needed.

As assessments have gone up over time, the new levy stayed and property owners have felt the full impact of the increase in their assessments. The measure introduced by Orcutt and Walsh moves the state back to a budget-based system by 2021 and lowers the taxes collected in CY 2022, 2023 by $590 million per year.

House Bill 2954 has been referred to the House Finance Committee, where it awaits a public hearing.  

The 2020 session is scheduled to adjourn March 12.


Washington State House Republican Communications