The 2016 legislative session kicks off next week, on January 11th. Inevitably, lawmakers will face a variety of controversial issues. Democrats are genetically bound to introduce at least one bill establishing a state income tax. Beyond that obvious non-starter, there are several other issues, which will actually dominate the session before adjournment is scheduled in March.
Lawmakers will certainly have to address the future of charter schools, given the State Supreme Court left thousands of children with an uncertain future concerning their schools thanks to their ridiculous ruling declaring them unconstitutional last fall. However, the most pressing issue facing lawmakers is the court’s McCleary decision-driven $100,000 per day fine issued last year.
Following the court’s ruling, Democrats proposed “solutions” that were just the usual calls for new taxes—or, as Jay Inslee put it, “additional revenue sources.”
Democrat state Rep. Jim Moeller—the number three Democrat in the state House and now a candidate for Lt. Governor—stated that he believed the court’s order was “appropriate” and “should not go ignored.” Moeller went on to suggest that a state income tax was a solution to the problems pointed out by the court.
As Shift reported, Moeller’s eagerness to champion a state income tax as the solution to the court’s fine came as no surprise—a similar situation in New Jersey prompted hasty action and led to the state’s adoption of an income tax in 1976. Moeller and his fellow Democrats have attempted for years to sneak in their party’s “guiding principle” past voters, and the court’s most recent order affords them another opportunity to try again.
Inslee followed up, and validated, Moeller’s statements by declaring that the court’s order should be respected. Our green governor also claimed the state needed new revenue sources to raise the money—he estimates an additional $3 billion a biennium—to appease the court. Specifically, Inslee claimed that the state would require “spectacular revenue growth” or “some additional revenue source” to meet the constitutional duty which Democrat governors have ignored since 1985.
While Democrats continue to insist on their go-to solution for every problem (higher taxes), Republicans are in favor of reasonable, creative solutions that do not further burden Washington’s working families with higher taxes. Republican state Sen. Bruce Dammeier, vice chairman of both the Senate Education and Ways and Means committee, called the decision out for what it was: a political issue. Dammeier gave his assurances that the problem could be resolved in a number of ways not involving raising taxes, including levy fairness.
Both parties haved claimed that their approach puts children first. But, who is right? Looking at the facts, rational people everywhere would judge Republicans’ claim as true for one rather obvious reason.
If a lawmaker truly prioritizes funding education first, it would be funded. It’s really that simple. Democrats demanding a tax increase to pay for education means they are not funding education first. Calling for tax increases to fund education—by the very action—means Democrats are unwilling to prioritize education spending. It also means Democrats are unwilling to make their various special interest campaign donors line up behind school children when it comes to state funding.
Democrats justify their tax hike demands by claiming the increase in revenue is needed to fund education because they know that voters’ answer would be an immediate “no” for their desire to grown the size of state government to satisfy their special interests demands.
We’re eager to see how Democrats will choose to deal with the $100,000 fine. But, we won’t be surprised if their “solutions” include tax increases.