$15 billion surplus more than enough to fund meaningful tax relief


OLYMPIASenate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, expressed their deep disappointment in the Senate and House 2021-23 supplemental budgets after they were released Monday.

“We’re stunned at the continuing inability or unwillingness of the Democratic majorities to listen to the people and take to heart the financial pain people are in daily. Neither of the operating-budget proposals gives any real, meaningful tax relief to middle-income Washingtonians, while their transportation packages pile on with fees and the new fuel tax. Instead, Democrats pay lip service to the needs of people trying to recover from unemployment and other losses. Washingtonians deserve better. They deserve direct tax relief that makes it easier to stretch a dollar right now. They need tax relief that helps employers to create more jobs instead of laying people off and shutting facilities down. They do not need gimmicks like a three-day sales-tax holiday.

“The time for relief is now when we have a historic surplus. State spending has nearly doubled since Gov. Inslee took office, far outpacing average worker wage growth. It’s up 90% from 2011-13 to 2021-23 and it’s grown at a rate roughly four times that of inflation. When do taxpayers get relief from that level of government greed?

“When the governor released his budget a couple of months ago, he and other Democrats made excuses for not including tax relief. They said the surplus was mostly ‘one-time’ money while Washington’s needs were ongoing. Clearly that was a misrepresentation. Less than 20% of the surplus – only about $2.3 billion — is one-time money. The rest is ongoing – just like the increases in spending we see in the budget proposals out today. The latest revenue forecast increased an already-historic surplus to a whopping $15 billion. To put that into perspective, budget writers are usually happy if there’s a surplus of any significance. There is no reasonable explanation for why much of this extra money did not turn into true, ongoing relief from the inflation and tax burdens people are feeling.

“Republicans have proposed fiscally sound ideas for tax relief. Not one has been incorporated because they interfere with Democrats’ increases in spending that show a misstep in priorities. Education funding would drop back down to only 44% of the state budget from the more than 50% we raised it to in the solution to the McCleary decision. That’s not treating education like it’s our paramount duty. And it could lead Washington toward a McCleary 2.0.

“The bottom line is that there’s apparently no state surplus large enough for Democrats to allow the people to keep more of their own money. How many billions more would it take? This approach undermines any attempts at rebuilding public trust.”