Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Greetings from Olympia!
With less than 7 days remaining in our 105-day session, you would think we would be winding down, passing the last pieces of legislation, focusing our efforts on the final budgets, and preparing to head back into our districts for the interim. In a perfect world, that's exactly what we would be doing.
Unfortunately, late last week, the Democratic-led House Finance Committee passed EVERY tax bill we have feared all session. With less than 7 days left, the Democrats are hoping to push through a $4 BILLION tax package. The tax increases include:
- House Bill 2156: an income tax on capital gains, and higher real estate excise taxes (REET);
- House Bill 2157: ending the sales tax break for out-of-state consumers; and
- House Bill 2158: higher business and occupation (B&O) taxes.
I urge everyone to call (800) 562-6000 and let your voices be heard: NO NEW TAXES!
House Republicans offered several amendments to lessen the tax burden through these proposals. They fought hard in debate during the committee hearing standing up for you by proving new taxes are unnecessary. Most of the amendments were rejected. If you'd like to watch the House Finance Committee hearing, please click here.
Speaking of taxes, I would also like to provide you with a short operating budget update. Unfortunately, it is more bad news. The House and Senate budget writers are in the negotiation process to see which chamber's budget will move forward as the final state budget for the 2019-21 biennium.
Democrats will not waiver from their position to increase your taxes before we conclude, as we have seen with the new House tax proposals on the table. The question still remains: how high will they go? The incessant need to squeeze even more money out of your wallets despite record state revenue collections and a large budget surplus is dumbfounding.
The state is in the best financial position since the Great Recession with $2.8 billion in surplus revenue. Rather than demanding more money for your wallets, we should be looking at ways to reduce or eliminate certain taxes. We should also be saving some of this extraordinary revenue for a rainy day – the economy cannot stay booming forever.
But no! The Democrats want to tax and spend. Most of the current budget talks and negotiations are taking place behind closed doors, with minimal Republican involvement. It is unsettling. I will keep you posted in the coming week as we await what the final budget actually looks like.
There is a lot of work yet to accomplish is a very short amount of time. I promise you that my caucus and I will stand united to fight these horrible tax proposals!
Again, I encourage you to call (800) 562-6000, voice your concerns on higher taxes, and demand your state lawmakers live within current means and remain fiscally responsible.
It's an honor to serve you.
Robert J. Sutherland