OLYMPIA… As the nation’s inflation rate hit 8.5% this past week, a report from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council indicated state-revenue collections are running more than $255 million above what it projected in February.
Senate Republican Leader John Braun of Centralia responded by calling again on the Legislature to support tax and inflation relief for the people of Washington:
“State government’s financial picture keeps getting better while the affordability crisis keeps getting worse. If you’re younger than 40, you have never had to contend with an inflation rate this high. Higher costs for food, gas, housing and energy are predictably harder on gig-economy and hourly-wage workers, and older people with fixed incomes. For younger people looking to become first-time homeowners or start a family, it’s a real shock – and the Democrats don’t seem to have any useful answers.
“Republicans offered idea after idea during this year’s session for helping families with the rising cost of living. In spite of a 15-billion-dollar budget surplus we couldn’t get our Democratic colleagues to agree. They just poured most of those billions into making government even larger.
“Right before the Legislature adjourned in early March, the current majority said no to a Republican proposal to suspend the 49.4-cent state gas tax through the end of 2022. Fortunately, the latest revenue report is keeping that opportunity alive. If Democrats would just drop their resistance to providing inflation relief, we could easily meet in a one-day, remote special session to suspend the regressive gas tax and maybe also consider a veto override or two.
“Democrats can talk about ‘Putin price hikes’ all they want – gas prices have been increasing all year long, so much that one in our state’s own congressional delegation called for a gas-tax suspension well before the invasion of Ukraine. The new transportation package they pushed through in Olympia this year may mean more bicycle lanes, and free transit for children, but it won’t do a thing to help parents afford the gas to get to their jobs or to their kids’ soccer games. The governor supports the idea of Washington refineries helping ensure gas is available to meet the needs of families and employers; he and Democrat legislators should now join Republicans to make gas more affordable.”