- Rep. Ross Hunter—top budget writer—calling Senate Republicans’ demand that House Democrats pass a complete budget, rather than merely their $39 billion spending package, “ridiculous.” He accused Republicans of “trying to force House members into ‘a gotcha vote’ on taxes.”
Question: Is it really so “ridiculous” for Democrats to vote on bills vital to their spending plan… which they passed out of the House? And, if Hunter is worried about a “gotcha vote” on taxes, perhaps he should not have written a budget proposal that is entirely reliant on… tax hikes.
- House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan saying he was “stunned” by Republicans’ demand that the House vote on their tax proposals. He claimed the demand “sidetracked budget discussions that had been progressing in meetings the previous two days.”
Sullivan isn’t telling the whole truth. Republicans leaders offered compromises on some spending to bring the two sides closer during the first days of budget negotiations. However, Democrats’ continued refusal to pass a complete budget plan—a budget that actually pays for itself—made it impossible to continue talks. Ultimately, it’s up to Democrats to prove they have the votes for new taxes.
- Sen. Bob Hasegawa counseling fellow Democrats not to “let the [bi-partisan] transportation package go” because then they would “lose our leverage to get a good operating budget out as well.”
Essentially, Hasegawa described a hostage situation involving our state’s transportation needs. Hasegawa was concerned about losing what he saw as leverage for raising taxes in the operating budget rather than concerning himself with getting the people’s business done on time. Unfortunately, House Democrats appear to have heeded Hasegawa’s advice because, more than one month after the state Senate passed the bi-partisan package and with 2015 legislative session scheduled to adjourn on April 26th, they have yet to act on the bill.
- Jay Inslee saying he has no problems with capital gains tax opponents making robocalls to inform Washingtonians of what Democrats are attempting to do, as long as “a capital gains tax proposal is not identified as an income tax proposal.”
As Shift recently pointed out, Inslee’s classification of a capital gains tax as an excise tax rather than an income tax is at odds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the United States Supreme Court. Under current law, the IRS categorizes capital gains income as, well, income. In 1921, the Supreme Court definitively ruled in Merchants Loan and Trust Co. v. Smietanka that capital gains are taxable as income. The case overturned precedents and allowed for the taxation of capital gains as… an income tax.
- House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan calling his fellow Democrats’ 2015-17 operating budget “courageous.”
It’s unclear how a budget that borrows heavily from Inslee’s December plan—yet could not even be introduced on time—and gives Democrats’ top campaign supporters (i.e the state employee unions) everything they asked for could be labeled as “courageous.” Not to mention the fact that House Democrat leadership—like Sullivan—have yet to muster the political courage to vote on the taxes necessary to make their “courageous” spending package into an actual budget. 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.