I don’t remember the governor saying a thing earlier this month when the House Finance Committee had a public hearing on the smorgasbord of taxes in House Bill 2186. But he declared it a waste of time for our Ways and Means Committee to have a public hearing this week on Senate Bill 5929, which includes the same proposals found in HB 2186.
I would have been fine with considering HB 2186 instead, but the House majority is refusing to vote on it. Unless they pass the bill, we can’t have a hearing on it.
It’s interesting how Democrat leaders can say it’s a “stunt” or a “game” for us to have a hearing on tax proposals or bring them to a vote, yet it’s not a stunt or a game for House Democrats to include tax bills in their budget package, then refuse to vote on them. Or to think they can negotiate with imaginary tax revenue while our side negotiates with real revenue.
Unlike the House, our Senate majority has already taken its tax vote, in the course of approving the Education Equality Act that would keep school funding tied to a stable source: property tax. We’re choosing to reform how property taxes pay for education, in a fair and progressive way that would have every property owner in Washington paying at the same rate. The House majority proposes untested or destabilizing taxes that target personal income, and most employers in our state.
While we’re setting the record straight, it’s false for anyone to claim the Senate and the House aren’t talking about the budget. We are, within the framework of the education-funding group that includes members from all four legislative caucuses. They include Senator Braun, our majority’s budget leader.
The education-funding conversations are possible because state government has more than enough money to fully fund basic education. Any tax debate is really about things outside of schools. And if the House majority is serious about having that debate, it knows what needs to be done – pass the tax proposals.