The 2015 legislative session is, at last, over. It took three special sessions, but Democrats—including Jay Inslee—finally gave up on their bigger government, higher taxes, special interest-driven agenda. Instead, the Republican approach of responsible, sustainable government spending won the day. Our state budget contains no new taxes and the needed transportation package contains a consumer protection provision guarding against Inslee implementing a gas-price raising fuel mandate by executive order.
It’s clear to onlookers that Republicans had the right agenda for the state’s taxpayers, while Democrats tried to drag out the session to force higher taxes. That reality has left Democrats scrambling to do damage control. And, that’s just what Inslee attempted to do during a media availability on the state Legislature’s adjournment on Friday.
Inslee kicked off his little speech by, essentially, declaring victory—a declaration he follow-up with quite a lot of defensive statements. Our green governor began by quickly outlining what he referred to as a “list of important investments” which he included in his budget back in December. He then went on to point out that, back in December, he stated that accomplishing everything on the “list” required raising taxes (in his words, increased revenue).
Well, according to Inslee, he was right. Meeting all our state’s funding requirements did take additional revenue. After a very confused (and at times incoherent) line of reasoning, Inslee finally blurts out why he believes he was right. It all boils down to the better-than-expected state revenue intake. And that, “reasons” Inslee, justifies Democrats’ push for historic tax hikes. That, “reasons” Inslee, proves that the Senate Republicans’ initial budget proposal was wrong and he was right
Inslee’s statement reveals just how desperate Democrats are to defend their absurd – and more than just a little obsessive – tax-raising agenda. You see, Inslee fails to account for the fact that, since he released his budget proposal, Republican lawmakers—including Senate budget writer state Andy Hill—argued that new taxes where not needed to meet all our state’s funding needs.
Prior to the start of the 2015 legislative session, Sen. Hill challenged Inslee’s sky-is-falling rhetoric on why our state needs new taxes. Hill pointed out that Inslee was “relying on scare tactics and a myth that the state was facing a massive budget deficit in his argument for new taxes.” According to Hill, Inslee was leading Washingtonians to believe “there’s some kind of Armageddon when it comes to the state budget.” Hill then went on to prove that, contrary to statements made by Inslee and his fellow Democrats, new taxes were not needed. The state had more than enough revenue to meet spending obligations.
Inslee’s reasoning also does not account for the fact that, even after the state economists released a revenue forecast that told lawmakers they could count on $3.2 billion (a whopping 9.2% increase) more in tax revenue than they had last time they wrote the state budget, Democrats continued to insist on new taxes. Inslee and his fellow Democrats refused to give up on their tax hike push. For whatever reason—pride over admitting they were wrong, willful ignorance or, more likely, a political commitment to reward their special interest campaign donors with millions more in state funding—they continued to insist that our state required new taxes in order to meet its obligations.
Here’s the twisted irony: throughout the legislative session, Democrats stalled budget negotiations because they refused to vote on their own tax proposals. By every indication, Democrats House Speaker Frank Chopp knew he did not have the support – even among members of his own party – to pass the $1.4 billion in new taxes that Inslee demanded out of the state House. And, those Democrats who supported the tax increases lacked the political courage to actually vote on them.
Now, one might assume that, after so much embarrassment, Democrats may finally be ready to let go of their tax-hike agenda. But, that’s not what happened on Friday. Inslee—joined by Speaker Chopp and Democrat Sen. Christine Rolfes—wrapped up the media availability by calling for… future tax increases. In essence, Inslee and his fellow Democrats ended the 2015 legislative session like they started it, with a call for new taxes.
It appears that Democrats did not take our advice and admit themselves into a tax addition recovery program after all.