Property tax relief achievable with strong revenue growth

Following yet another positive revenue forecast, Sen. John Braun said property tax relief in 2018 was not only achievable but an obvious choice. Education funding legislation approved last year increased the 2018 state property tax before local levies are reduced in 2019 as part of transitioning to a new funding system.

“More than $2 billion in additional resources means we can eliminate this year’s property tax increase without cutting programs or raising taxes. Most importantly, we can do this while protecting and enhancing the historic education investments we made last year,” said Braun, R-Centralia, who serves as ranking minority member on the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “While more than 70 percent of the state will see a property tax decrease beginning in 2019, we have a clear opportunity to address this issue now.”

In June the Legislature passed a state operating budget that projects to balance over four years. Third and fourth quarter revenue forecasts by the state’s chief economist in 2017 already projected $1 billion in additional revenue. Today’s forecast added another $1.3 billion.

On Friday lawmakers will also receive an updated caseload forecast — the number of people needing services — which Braun expects will free up even more spending already allocated in the budget.

“A one-year increase was not my preferred method for funding our schools, but was necessary to reach a bipartisan agreement with House Democrats last year,” said Braun. “In September when I first proposed using additional revenues for property tax relief it didn’t seem to have much support across the aisle. But a strong economy and our balanced budget provide a simple opportunity to help property owners, without any negative impacts to an already robust state budget.”

Lawmakers are on day 39 of a 60-day session. Budget leaders are expected to release supplemental budget proposals in the coming week.