Budgets explode spending while ignoring broad-based tax relief
February 24, 2022
OLYMPIA–If Washington was ever going to see a broad-based sales tax cut, this was the year. Now that the House and Senate have released their 2022 supplemental budget proposals, however, we know that the current makeup of the legislature is incapable of providing meaningful tax relief no matter the fiscal outlook or claims of concern about the tax burden on low to moderate-income Washingtonians.
Neither the House nor Senate budgets include broad-based tax cuts. Instead they both massively increase spending while providing pay raises for government employees. The House at least pretends to provide tax relief using what the Tax Foundation calls a “political gimmick.” The House proposes a one-time (only for 2022), temporary “sales tax holiday” if you buy what lawmakers want when they want and where they want you to. This is not broad-based tax relief.
Apparently budget writers say we have to be “cautious” and can’t provide Washingtonians who have been hammered by record inflation with a real sales tax cut. In fact, the Senate didn’t even hold a public hearing on the Democratic sponsored proposal for a broad-based sales tax cut (SB 5932). That caution can be thrown to the wind, however, when it comes to massively increasing state spending instead.
I’m not sure what is more disappointing or frustrating – the failure to provide meaningful tax relief with a $10.5 billion increase in the revenue forecast (over the four-year outlook) or the total disregard for the public with the blitzkrieg release of the spending plans just hours before the public hearings yesterday.
Public hearings shouldn’t just be a checkbox for lawmakers to be bothered with while on their way to passing a bill. Releasing hundreds of pages of spending details just hours before a public hearing, with plans to move out of committee two days later and pass off the floor within the week, makes a total mockery of the public’s demand for legislative transparency and the right to be involved in their governance.
We’ll have additional details and analysis on the budgets once we actually have time to read the hundreds of pages of spending details just released yesterday.