Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today Governor Inslee introduced his tax and spend budget. Unfortunately, he failed to make any difficult spending decisions. Instead, he chose to keep his supporters whole by proposing we maintain and increase a variety of taxes by $1.2 billion. Clearly the taxpayers are the ones who will have to make the tough decisions since our governor did not.
In 2012, the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 2.2 percent (GDP). Meanwhile, the governor thinks that the biennial budget should grow at a two-year rate of 10.6 percent. This is just unreasonable. It means that taxpayers have to fund the growth of government at a far greater rate than the economy allows.
Among his tax proposals, Governor Inslee would like to:
- tax you on bottled water;
- make permanent the “temporary” tax exemption on beer, and extend it to microbrews;
- increase taxes for vehicle trade-ins over $10,000;
- increase B&O tax rates for 40 businesses sectors, like licensed boarding homes, travel agents, and timber;
- extend 'temporary taxes' on professional service businesses (see below);
- and more.
Many of these tax extensions and increases affect small businesses and people embedded in our community such as barbers, beauty shop owners, chiropractors, janitors, music teachers, physicians, real estate agents, and veterinarians. At a time when unemployment in Thurston and Pierce counties rests at 8.5 and 9.7 percent, respectively, we cannot afford to increase tax rates on anyone who works, runs a business or employs people.
With all these tax increases, you would think the governor could prioritize higher education, but he proposes to increase tuition on college students by five percent.
I believe that all of us are crying out for more trust in government and our leaders. It seems very tragic to me that the governor chose to begin his term with seeming to so clearly break his most substantive campaign promise. This makes it much harder, not easier, to ask citizens to fund the valid priorities of our state.
A responsible budget can be built with the $2 billion more expected for this budget than the last budget, all at current taxation levels. The governor stated today that “we can do hard things.” I agree, but I don't think what he's proposed was hard for him. Instead, I hope the Legislature can stand up to special interests, prioritize our budget and live within our means.
I look forward to seeing a no-new-taxes budget come from the Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate, and will provide you information when it's released.
As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the budget and other issues. It's an honor to serve you.