‘We can balance the state budget without new tax increases,’ freshmen House Republican lawmakers say

Washington state is realizing a nearly $2 billion, or roughly 7 percent, increase in tax collections this two-year budget cycle as the economy slowly begins to turn a corner. Yet today, freshmen House Democrat members held a press conference decrying the need for new and higher general taxes, such as a capital gains tax, to “buy back” K-12 education programs, health care services and to create a new universal first-year college entrance program.

Freshmen House Republican members strongly disagreed with the majority party members and stand in support of their plan to balance the state’s operating budget without new tax increases. They also endorsed their plan to create private-sector jobs. They issued the following statements today:

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm and the only freshman serving on House Ways and Means Committee:

“I think the people have said clearly and repeatedly that they cannot afford more taxes. They want to see the Legislature do the most with the resources it has, not find new ways to dig deeper into our people’s pockets. It is disappointing that lawmakers cannot take a longer look at our spending before scavenging for new ways to increase taxes on hardworking families and employers. With the release of our budget, House Republicans have proven that you can prioritize the core priorities of the state without raising taxes. We know it can be done; we just have to remember what our bosses, the voters, sent us here to do. I heard quite a bit of rhetoric in Ways and Means Committee about ‘finding new revenue’ and ‘taxing the rich.’ These folks just fail to recognize that while it sounds great to ‘go after the other guy,’ this will severely limit our economic growth. The voters have rejected that approach over and over. It is absolutely wrong to say that raising taxes will help the economy. Ask any employer in the state if penalizing them with increased taxes will encourage them to hire more people and they will laugh in your face.”

Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Blaine:

“The voters made their positions very clear when they defeated a state income tax, repealed tax increases and demanded again that it take a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to raise taxes. They told the state to live within its means. I agree. The freshmen House Democrats should put their time and passion behind finding meaningful state government reforms – not finding ways to make it tougher on struggling families and small businesses. House Republicans rolled up their sleeves and determined state priorities. We came up with a budget proposal that focused on education, public safety and the most vulnerable, reformed state government and would be sustainable over the long-term. We feel voters sent us to Olympia to make these hard decisions – not to take the easy way out and raise taxes.”

Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw:

“Even before the majority party began looking at how to balance the state budget this year, they had already laid the groundwork to raise the state sales tax. There was no effort by the majority in the Legislature to create a balanced budget that funds the priorities of education, public safety and services for the most vulnerable. Instead, they followed the governor’s lead to cut core government services, like education, holding it hostage to a tax increase. Their approach is no way to lead.”

Rep. Ann Rivers, R-La Center:

“I’m surprised the House Democrat freshmen are pushing for new tax increases when voters have been very clear they don’t want them and struggling citizens can’t afford them. The message I continue to receive from my constituents is this: get the state’s fiscal house in order before you ask us for more of our hard-earned money. I agree with them 100 percent, and that’s why I support the House Republican budget proposal that would set priorities and lead to sustainability, not rely on new tax increases.”

Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington:

“We have $2 billion dollars more in tax collections over and above the last budget, and yet majority party budget writers refuse to prioritize spending on core government services. For example, they offered and adopted an amendment to increase funding for the state Department of Ecology while delaying $405 million in payments to our schools, including $75 million dollars in levy equalization funding. Therefore, the next biennium’s budget will already be a half-billion dollars in the red! Failing to pay our current obligations by pushing debt into the next biennium is not a sustainable budget.”

Rep. Katrina Asay, R-Milton:

“Increasing taxes doesn’t necessarily result in more tax revenue and either way it does not solve the long-term problem of overspending. We have put forward a balanced budget that includes the priorities and activities that our communities expect a state government to do.”

Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden:

“One of the questions I often get asked by the various groups which come down to Olympia to talk with me is ‘what are you going to do to raise more revenue.’ My response to their question is simple, reform government so businesses can get Washington working again, produce products and create jobs for our neighbors!”

Rep. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup:

“Higher taxes don’t necessarily equal higher revenue. If we want long-term, sustainable revenue, let’s do everything we can to help employers employ taxpayers. When it comes to budgeting, let’s fund education first so we can invest in the taxpaying workforce of tomorrow.”

Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver:

“Increasing taxes is not a long-term solution to our budget or to get people back to work. While I respect my colleagues across the aisle, I feel this is a slap in the face to all the people and employers who have had to make difficult decisions during the tough economic downturn. In fact, we have seen a seven percent increase in revenue or about $2 billion this biennium. Revenue is not the problem. Our caucus was able to show it is possible to balance the budget without raising taxes and still fully fund education and programs for our most vulnerable.”


Washington State House Republican Communications