It’s Tax Day! That means millions of Americans are scrambling to make sure their taxes are in order and filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It also means that, like other Americans, Washingtonians must pay a federal income tax and a federal capital gains income tax.
Fortunately, thanks to our state’s tax code, Washingtonians are spared from paying a state income tax and state capital gains income tax on top of the federal tax burden. However, if Democrats get their way, that would change.
As Shift reported, Democrats have long advocated—and actively pursued—a state income tax. It’s in the Washington State Democrats party platform as a “guiding principle” for the next two years. And, at least one Democrat legislator introduces a state income tax bill every legislative session—this session is no exception.
Democrat lawmakers have proposed two separate state income tax bills during this legislative session. Democrat state Senators Maralyn Chase, Bob Hasegawa, Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Pramila Jayapal sponsored Senate Bill 8202 this year in the Democrats’ latest attempt to ignore the oft-repeated preferences of Washington voters and implement a state income tax. Their efforts were re-enforced by Sen. Mark Liias – and semi-infamous and taxpayer-funded newsletter writer, who also introduced a state income tax bill this legislative cycle. Liias claimed a state income tax would fund teacher pay raises using disingenuous statistics and flawed math.
Most Democrats appear a bit more hesitant to publically defy their constituents and demand a state income tax. So, they have decided to pursue their “guiding principle” through a less obvious route: a capital gains income tax.
Jay Inslee’s budget proposal included a 7.5% state capital gains income tax. He billed the tax as “fair” and some Democrat lawmakers have been eager to offer their support ever since, though that support doesn’t include actually voting for the tax. Embracing the income tax as the answer to their need to fund pay raises to their big campaign donors, House Democrats proposed a 2015-17 budget that includes a slightly-lower state capital gains income tax. Democrats made a new state capital gains income tax, at a 5% rate, the “centerpiece” of their budget.
Democrats have claimed that this notoriously volatile form of taxation is needed to meet the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision to fully fund our public schools. Of course, they really need a state capital gains income tax to reward their million-dollar campaign donors—including the Washington Education Association, the Washington Federation of State Employees and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—with $867 million in pay raises, a result of Jay Inslee’s secret negotiations with the top union executives who supported his campaign.
Here’s the catch: though Democrats have proposed a state capital gains income tax as the “centerpiece” of their 2015-17 budget plan, they refuse to actually vote on the tax. When Democrat House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan was asked if Democrats would vote on bills to raise taxes to cover the spending in their proposed budget, he admitted that they would not. Sullivan’s comments came after he called the House budget “courageous.” Of course, as Shift pointed out, it’s hardly courageous of Democrats to propose and pass a 15% increase in the state budget over the next two years, but not actually vote on their tax proposals needed to pay for their budget-busting plan.
Essentially, the Democrats want to write the check for their budget, but don’t actually have the will to put enough money in the state bank to cover their check. Evidently bounces checks passes for “courageous” in the House Democrat caucus.
The reality is that House Democrats have failed to propose an actual budget. Rather, they have just voted on a spending wish list. Democrat lawmakers clearly do not have the votes to create the state income tax that Jay Inslee, House Speaker Frank Chopp and other leading Democrats desperately want, even if it means dragging this legislative session into overtime.
The Democrat approach makes it difficult for Senate Republicans to take the House spending plan seriously. Yet, it’s hypocritical Democrats and their supporters on the far-left who accuse Republicans of relying on budget gimmicks, even when the Senate has passed all the necessary bills to implement its budget proposal.
The 2015 legislative session is scheduled to conclude on April 26th. If Democrats continue to refuse to do their jobs and get the people’s business done, this legislative session will go into extra innings – costing taxpayers even more money.