Don’t count on Democrats for relief from high prices

Oct 20, 2022

At the risk of dating myself, I was a young mother right around the last time the inflation rate in our state was like it is now… very high and skyrocketing!

I know what it’s like to do the dollar-stretching and prioritizing that has suddenly become a necessity for today’s younger generation, especially parents. I remember paying what were then record gas prices (when stations had gas to sell – sometimes they ran out due to short supplies) and how the high cost of borrowing put a first-home purchase out of reach for many. Those experiences have much to do with why I’m a fiscal conservative today.

More to the point, I get how many young moms are now struggling to afford necessities, and how that affects their children. As gas prices go up, it doesn’t just cost more to drive to the grocery store; you get less food for your dollar than a year ago because truckers, farmers and ranchers are also paying more for gas. Then there’s the higher cost of transporting your kids to the sports and extra-curricular activities they’re eager to do after being restricted by the pandemic for so long.

I get how the affordability crisis is even harder on Washington parents who are single-income, live in rural areas, or both. Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight to the rising gas and food and housing and energy bills, and no sign that legislators on the Democratic side of the aisle also “get” the pain being felt by people they’re supposed to be representing.

In June a new state revenue forecast showed Olympia is still rolling in taxpayer dollars. As a member of the forecast council, I spoke up again about how legislators should help the people of Washington contend with high prices for everything. Nope, said the Democrats on the council, they would only look at “targeted investments.” Gosh, even California is giving out tax refunds!

What? In January, after gas prices had already climbed 42% in one year due to Biden administration policies, I had co-sponsored legislation to temporarily suspend the state gas tax. We’re talking an immediate reduction of 49.4 cents per gallon – and this was before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. That would have been a targeted investment, and the state treasury had more than enough money to cover it. Democrats refused.

A 3-day break from charging sales tax in early September, to help parents with school-related purchases, would have been a targeted investment. Same for the Senate Republican proposal to end the sales tax on diapers. Democrats said no. As a prominent Democrat seems to enjoy saying… C’mon, man!

Wait, it gets worse. Over the past two years our Democratic colleagues and Governor Inslee have found new ways to make fuel prices go up in the future. Under those laws, none of that extra cost will go toward maintaining the roads we all use.

If Democrats cared how high prices for gas, food, housing and energy are causing so many in our state to struggle, we gave them enough chances this year to show it. Apparently, letting single moms and other parents keep more of their own money, so they can try to afford those high costs, doesn’t qualify as a targeted investment. So… what and who exactly is their target?

When I was a young mom, there was no internet or social media to help me see how government’s actions, or lack of action, affected my ability to provide for my daughters. It’s much easier for today’s parents to figure out when government is being greedy and heartless. Last month, the leader of the Senate Democrats claimed tax relief will be on the table in 2023. After all the times they flat out said no this year, who believes that?

— Sen. Lynda Wilson