Dubbed by some as “Taxapalooza,” the 2019 Washington State legislative session—mercifully—drew to a close last week. When the session began in January, tax after tax after tax after tax was proposed. With the dizzying array of new taxes and tax increases, one might’ve thought there was a need for revenue. That’s true if you’re a Democrat in Olympia—there’s always a need for more taxpayer money.
As these bills were dropping, revenue was already exceeding
the budget by $3.8-5.6 billion, depending on whether or not you counted the
lately elevated education spending. But an extra $3.8 billion is not enough! So
what’s the damage for Washington’s taxpayers?
The budget was increased by an astounding 18%, which far exceeded the 1.6% population growth. The public employee unions—who give very generously to Democrats—received $451 million of that increase in added salaries and benefits.
Most workers will not be happy to learn that there’s now a new payroll tax to fund a state long-term care insurance program (and don’t worry, that tax will never go up). The Business & Occupation tax was changed—and increased—from one rate for everyone to a graduated scale which meant it more than doubled for certain businesses. The Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) was also switched from one rate to many, slightly lowering the rate for houses at the lower end of the market and more than doubling them for people at the higher end.
An exemption on state sales tax was revoked, which means there will no longer be an incentive for Oregonians, who pay no sales tax, to cross the border and patronize Washington businesses. One of the most egregious things to occur was nearly doubling taxes on banks with more than $1 billion in net annual income. But government playing favorites isn’t the worst part of this particular tax hike. The way it was brought about was that a “title only” bill was dropped the Friday before the session ended. By Sunday, the language had been added and it had been voted on. Many of these tax votes occurred, literally, while most Washingtonians were sleeping the last weekend of the session.
Then there’s the climate bills. Our governor, Jay Inslee, is
running for president, and he is—and always has been—a one-trick pony: climate.
He has pushed and pushed and pushed for every climate-related tax imaginable,
only to be rejected by the voters time and again, last November being the most
recent. But that doesn’t stop Jay and his vanity campaign for president.
The Democrats, who are deeply in the majority in Olympia, gave
the governor something he could campaign on, no matter what it will cost the
taxpayers of Washington or how it might harm our energy supply. Even though the
additional taxes they wanted on energy and gasoline didn’t pass, a bill
requiring the phase-out of coal-fire electricity by 2025 did.
Another “governor request” bill passed which will mandate all electricity
sold in Washington must come from non-carbon emitting sources by 2045. Not
to worry: we have an unlimited supply of magic fairy dust here in the Evergreen
State. Also, there are rumors that the Keebler elves live in one of our
forests, and I’m sure they produce electricity as well as cookies.
Speaking of the governor’s presidential campaign, it’s been a point of contention that the taxpayers have had to foot the bill for his security costs as he galivants across the country. As criticism mounted, Inslee blithely responded, “It’s the law.” In this budget, taxpayers get to pay an additional $2 million for security so he can fly from state to state—burning fossil fuels—to raise money. He has a solid shot, too: he seems to be holding steady at 1%.
If all of those taxes weren’t enough, they also voted to keep the much-hated tolls on I-405 and Hwy 167 permanent, even though they didn’t meet their own criteria for justifying the tolls. What did they do to get around that? Adjust the criteria, of course!
It should be noted that several proposed taxes didn’t make it, including an income tax, which has repeatedly been judged unconstitutional. The greed of the Democrats in Olympia knows no bounds, however, so they keep trying.
The conclusion everyone should take away from the 2019 legislative session in Olympia is this: no amount of money will ever be enough, and they will always seek more and more and more. It doesn’t matter if you are being taxed out of your home with skyrocketing property tax increases that just occurred prior to this. It doesn’t matter if the sky-high gas taxes we pay make it that much harder to get to work and make ends meet (you should be taking the bus, anyway, you selfish brute). The Party in power doesn’t care about you and how difficult they make your life with tax increase after tax increase—and all of their “unintended” consequences. They just expect you to pay up. They also expect you to forget about this by the next election. Will you?