Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last Friday, the House Finance Committee on which I serve held a public hearing on the Democrats' tax increase proposal, House Bill 2038. You can watch the entire four-hour public hearing here and here through TVW. You can still share your comments online here.
This hearing was a defining moment as an overflow of everyday taxpayers, small business owners, private sector union leaders and Republicans worked together to stand up against tax increases and fought to prevent temporary taxes from becoming permanent. It says something when people take four hours out of their work day to explain their viewpoint to the majority party.
I was proud of the Main Street taxpayers, self-employed and small businesspeople who questioned tax increase supporters' catch phrases and false assumptions. We heard many stories of employers who have been barely hanging on, doing everything to keep providing a job for themselves and their employees, but who will have to make impossible decisions if the Legislature passes these tax increases. Some of the stories:
- An insurance agent shared that he is waiting to write a job offer for someone who is currently unemployed based on whether the Legislature passes this legislation. Tax increases really do impact jobs!
- A realtor shared that their average salary is $45,000 – these are not rich people! One real estate agent was faced with a choice of firing his only employee and losing his house. He chose to give up his home.
- Two beverage distributors shared that they have already had to cut 53 jobs since the beer tax was implemented, and making it permanent could cost more jobs. One stated that people are his best asset, and looking people in the eye and letting them go was painful.
- An owner of a building maintenance company shared that the proposed new tax on janitorial services would cost $14,000 per month for cleaning the Columbia Center in Seattle. This would mean three to four people would have to be laid off since the company can't pass the costs on to their clients or they could lose the contract entirely.
- A man with Global Automakers said the proposed tax increase on import/export commerce will hurt businesses and jobs at the Port of Tacoma. People that do business with the port will be taxed for the privilege of doing business there.
Toward the end of the hearing, a gentleman who runs a group called “Tax Sanity” had been railing against tax exemptions and that taxes should be increased. I asked him if his group is tax exempt, and he said yes.
That about sums it up!
I'm not here to defend all tax exemptions. I think it is wise and prudent to review tax exemptions as necessary. Unfortunately, our non-partisan staff shared that many of the exemptions suggested to be ended by the majority party have not been reviewed by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee. What we heard over and over Friday was that ending these specific exemptions would hurt people and jeopardize jobs. In addition, the cost of services all of us pay for will increase.
I cannot and will not support this tax package – working people and those looking for jobs cannot afford it. We need a stable, predictable economy so people in our state can thrive again.
You still have a chance to make an impact. Call the legislative hotline toll-free at (800) 562-6000 and leave a message for representatives expressing your opinion of House Bill 2038. You can also share your comments online here.