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Tax Increase & Other Updates

March 22, 2019

With 37 days remaining in the regular session, it’s budget time and we are gearing up to face a variety of proposed tax increases.

The Forecast Council’s budget forecast released on Wednesday shows an even rosier 2019-2021 revenue picture—now at $50.5 billion, up 9.6 percent. This windfall translates into $4.2 billion more in unexpected revenue.

Despite this, Democrats remain firm in their mantra that the state needs even more revenue. House Democrats are expected to release their budget Monday, have it heard in committee, and then pass out of the chamber within a week—but no spending details are yet available. The Governor’s budget seeks $54.4 billion in state spending, which includes new taxes of nearly $4 billion to fund it. This is in addition to the $4.2 billion windfall.

Over the next month, lawmakers will be hard at work trying to find a mix of tax increases to achieve their goals including graduated Real Estate Excise Tax (REET), increased B&O tax, and a proposed capital gains income tax despite the IRS and courts ruling repeatedly that it is considered an income tax—which is prohibited in Washington state.

Washington currently has one of the hottest economies in America. The recent budget is the best we’ve seen in the 21st century and includes a sizable surplus. There is simply no need to raise taxes on working families that are struggling to find a path to affordable homeownership or on small businesses who fuel our growing economy.

BIAW believes that the state needs to live within its means and place some of this revenue in a rainy day fund. In doing so, this would create a better plan for our future needs instead of allowing irresponsible budget growth and tax increases.

Brief Celebration
After a brief opportunity to celebrate the death of many bad policy ideas last week, we continue to see several bad ideas
move through the legislative process.

SB 5489: Establishing a healthy environment for all by addressing environmental health disparities.

  • This would create a task force comprised of activists with only one being a representative from the business community
  • This task force, outside the legislature and typical rulemaking processes in law, circumvent existing law and define how agencies draft rules and approve project permits to ensure that no one, now or in the future, could possibly be “harmed” by anything including development.

This week, Government Affairs Director Jan Himebaugh represented BIAW in opposing SB 5861, the Code of Conduct bill. BIAW strongly supports current law protecting against sexual harassment and discrimination of any form—in all workplaces—including the Legislature. We have multiple concerns about the constitutionality of this bill, some of which have been outlined in this letter »

Ironically, despite the aspirations of this legislation to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace, BIAW received a number of calls from lobbyists and other interested parties who were afraid to testify against this bill. Himebaugh was alone in her brave opposition to this legislation,

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