OLYMPIA… Sen. John Braun remembers the big-taxes, big-spending budget Gov. Jay Inslee proposed to lawmakers before their 2019 session, so it was no shock today when Inslee endorsed an avalanche of unnecessary new taxes and a record state operating budget to spend them.
“The governor wanted a business-tax increase and got one, but not the new state income tax or the $54 billion in spending he’d proposed,” said Braun, who is Senate Republican budget leader. “For all we know, he may be disappointed that there weren’t more new taxes to approve along with a $52.4 billion budget that still sets a record.”
Braun, R-Centralia, maintains there is no need for new taxes because state government hasn’t seen such a positive budget situation this century, maybe ever. Even so, the majority party in the Senate and House of Representatives endorsed taxes totaling nearly $7 billion more over four years, counting a new payroll tax and the enabling of higher local school levies.
“The governor and his budget office could see as well as the rest of us how the state economy was producing enough revenue to protect all of today’s services and programs and still allow major new investments in behavioral health and special education,” Braun said. “But he still went for the tax-and-spend home run in his budget proposal, and for the most part, the legislators from his party agreed – which isn’t good news for the families and employers who will pay the price one way or another.”
Last week Braun was part of a bipartisan group of high-ranking legislators who formally asked Inslee to veto a new $133 million tax that shot through the Legislature in about 48 hours as the session was drawing to a close April 28. Instead, the governor signed House Bill 2167 today, which effectively doubles the business-and-occupation (B&O) tax on out-of-state banks.
“It was a long shot but we thought it was worth appealing to the governor’s sense of consistency,” said Braun, referring to Inslee’s 2017 veto – on the grounds that it moved through the Legislature too quickly – of a bill to extend the state’s lower tax rate on aerospace to all other manufacturers in Washington.
“It seems the governor has different rules: when government wants to take more money, there’s no such thing as approving a tax hike too hastily. Apparently a quick decision is only a problem when it comes to tax fairness, and letting people keep more of their own money.”