The Democrats in Olympia are committed to raise your taxes, whether the state needs them or not.
Calling Captain Obvious! The Association of Washington Business (AWB) points out there is no reason for Governor Jay Inslee and legislative Democrats to be raising taxes when there is $16 billion additional dollars coming into the state treasury. AWB is encouraging members to contact their legislators to ask them to “focus on restoring jobs, not raising taxes.” The state’s largest employer group just points out the numbers: Washington State is receiving $16 billion in new money ($11 billion from federal bailout bills, and $5 billion from tax revenue that wasn’t expected until this month), yet there are 232,000 fewer jobs in the state than there was a year ago. AWB argues that “policymakers are talking about creating new taxes, such as a capital gains/income tax” when they should be focusing on helping businesses create permanent jobs.
The House Democrats’ budget includes the unconstitutional and unnecessary state income tax on capital gains, and by scheduling the vote for this Saturday (when almost no one is watching), it appears they are just like the Senate Democrats in fearing that the public will figure out that they are raising taxes. While the Democrats lawmakers keep pushing for new taxes, to please the liberal special interest groups which fund their campaigns, the public has demonstrated repeatedly that it does not want more taxes. By scheduling the vote during a rare Saturday session, they hope a vast majority of Washington residents will not be aware of their greedy activities in Olympia. (Association of Washington Business flier)
Teachers’ unions across the country (like the Washington Education Association) are experiencing a backlash for selfishly ignoring the overwhelming scientific data and health experts’ advice and keeping students away from in-person instruction. The Wall Street Journal states in an editorial, “The pandemic has been a revelation for many Americans about union control of public schools that refuse to reopen. That awakening is helping to spur some welcome reform progress as several state legislatures are moving to expand school choice.” In Washington State, there has been a large decline in public school enrollment as parents have found other ways to obtain an education for their children. (Wall Street Journal)
At a time when both King County and the City of Seattle are placating rioters’ demands by cutting law enforcement budgets, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has twice the average number of felony “open cases” he has yet to prosecute. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (which handles nearly all the felony cases in the county) currently has more than 6,100 open felony cases, while it normally averages around 3,250 cases. The high number is due in part to the King County Superior Court conducting few jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also because of the climbing crime rate. And since a lower percentage of suspects are kept in jail to allow for “social distancing”, this means more of the suspects going unprosecuted are out on the streets.
Crime and prosecutorial data is now available in a new “dashboard” made available by the prosecutor’s office. It is interesting to go through the different crime categories and see the increase in many crimes (like there were 90 murder cases filed in 2020, while the average is 57), while some crimes have experienced a deep decline (there were only 650 drug possession cases filed last year, when normally there are approximately 1,050 each year) due to both law enforcement and the prosecutors refusing to enforce drug laws (even before the Washington State Supreme Court’s Blake decision). (KUOW and King County Prosecutor Office Dashboard)
During this past year, downtown Seattle’s office vacancy rate climb from 9% to 17%, while Bellevue’s rate increased slightly less from 8% to 13% (while having Amazon announce the construction of two new towers and a having a third, unrelated large project also announced). Certainly much of the vacancy growth can be attributed to more people working remotely during the pandemic, but some of Seattle’s overcapacity is related to the decaying conditions of the downtown neighborhood. As vaccinations increase and some people resume working in office settings, it will be interesting to watch whether the two city’s vacancy rate diverge. (Puget Sound Business Journal)
Socialist Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant evidently feels she has not done enough to reduce the number of rental units in Seattle, for she now wants to impose rent control on apartments. Sawant’s silly idea will cause even more of a housing shortage in Seattle, for property management firms and small property owners would be hesitant to have their rates determined by government mandate, and thus less likely to create or offer more rental units in the city. (MyNorthwest)
Spokane County Sheriff officers will soon begin wearing body cameras, and Spokane Valley officers will likely soon join them. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said the cost of video storage prevented his department from using the cameras in the past. Spokane Valley contracts with the Sheriff’s office for law enforcement protection, and needs the council to approve the additional costs. The City of Spokane Police Department has used body cameras for seven years. (Spokesman Review)
The Washington State Supreme Court’s decision in the State v. Blake case is severely reducing the number of people who must attend drug counseling. Columbia County Prosecuting Attorney Dale Stock said the “carrot and stick approach” of forcing people into treatment, in order to have their drug possession charges dropped, was effective. Yet because of the ruling, College Place Police Chief Troy Tomaras said his department has not made a drug possession arrest in over a month. As a result, more people continue to suffer from their untreated addiction. We should point out that in responding to the Blake decision, Republican lawmakers have introduced five separate bills to resolve the issues from the court’s decision, and also help those with addictions, while the Democrats thought legalizing many hard drugs is the best response to the current crisis. (Walla Walla Union Bulletin, House Republican Caucus, and Shift Article)
- Governor Inslee’s expensive and ineffective Low Carbon Fuel Standard (HB 1091) is currently before the Senate Ways & Means Committee (after passing the House earlier this month), and if the Democrats follow normal procedures, it should go before the Senate Transportation Committee next (since it is expected to raise the cost of gas upwards of 60 cents a gallon). Yet, rumors are that Democrat legislative leaders have worked out a deal with Transportation Committee Chair Senator Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens), who has killed previous LCFS bills in his committee, so that the LCFS will go directly to the Rules Committee. (Washington Legislature Bill Summary)
- The folks at the Washington Policy Center point out that Representative Noel Frame’s (D – Seattle) “Wealth Tax” bill (HB 1406) has been resurrected, and has been scheduled to be discussed in Executive Session of the House Finance Committee tomorrow morning. This is the job-killing bill that would target billionaires and likely encourage many wealthy individuals to simply claim another state as their residence to avoid the highly targeted tax. Representative Drew Stokesbary (R – Auburn) said that there are rumors of a substitute bill being proposed. The wealth tax revenue could be used to fund HB 1494 – a property tax exemption bill. (Washington Legislative Bill Summary, Lens, and Washington Policy Center Facebook Live event)
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