Yesterday, state House Democrats released a revised version of their spending plan. Their new plan—it is not yet an actual budget yet as the Democrats have failed to vote on their tax hike proposals which would balance the budget—would spend a record-setting $38.4 billion over the next two years. Notably, while Democrats took their business and occupation tax hike proposal off the table – and never could get enough support to include Jay Inslee’s cap-and-tax proposal – they refused to do away with their state capital gains income tax.
House Democrats insist that their state capital gains income tax is needed to allow them to spend as much money as they want. Of course, that’s not true. As state Senate Republicans proved with the budget they passed during the regular session, and again in the first special session, no new taxes are needed if lawmakers actually establish budget priorities and stick with them. And, given that the state economists’ latest revenue forecast projects the lawmakers have another $400 million available in the next two years – bringing the grand total to a whopping $3.2 billion increase more in revenue than the current budget cycle – without raising taxes a dime, the Democrats claim is certainly not true now.
GOP state Sen. Andy Hill, the top Senate budget writer, called the House Democrats revised proposal a “positive step.” But, he also criticized their capital gains income tax proposal and confirmed that Senate Republicans “still think those taxes are unnecessary.”
As Shift pointed out, Speaker Frank Chopp and his House Democrats are simply not in touch with reality. Their insistence on tax hikes is not about whether or not the state actually needs more money. Rather, it’s purely ideological. For Democrats, it’s about not admitting that Senate Republicans were right all along in balancing the budget without tax increases. For the liberals who dominate the Democrat caucuses in the legislature, it’s about a false notion of making our state’s tax system “fairer” by implementing a form of income tax and, thereby, taking a step closer to establishing a full-blown state income tax – as their party platform calls for as a top priority.
Crosscut’s John Stang was only too willing to support House Democrats in their clear obsession for tax raising taxes. Accepting whatever Democrats say as truth, Stang recently wrote that Democrats have “the votes lined up to pass” the capital gains income tax since they have a “51-to-47 advantage in the House.” Of course, no one can be sure whether or not Democrats have the votes to pass their tax hike – because they have refused to vote on a budget that balances. That’s why House Democrats should take the advice of a recent editorial in the News Tribune and demonstrate they have the political courage—and the votes—to pass their state capital gains income tax, so that they would actually have something to negotiate with the Senate about.