4/5/21 | Submitted by Ruth <Boistfortpco@gmail.com>
This past week, two budgets were debated on the floor of the Senate. The Democrats have the majority, so of course, their budget is the one that passed. But Republicans wanted to be clear about the differences between the priorities of the two parties.
Both budgets are huge documents – The D budget is over 1000 pages and the R budget is close to 900 – so it is impossible to discuss them in-depth. But I will point out some major differences, give you links to the bills, and finally, I’ll give you links to some very short speeches made by members themselves so you can see for yourself the differences. I will not put an endpoint on the links to the speeches, so you can listen to the entire debate, if you like. It’s a couple hours long.
First, I will mention that both budgets invest in behavioral health and service for those with developmental disabilities. We have a need for both, because both have been seriously underfunded in the past. They also both invest in our forestlands, improving the health of our forests and reducing wildfire damage. Both also provide money for Employment Services, because we’ve given out billions of dollars of unemployment over the past year, and the only way to make that up would be to increase the payroll taxes on employers (although the D budget invests on $5M, as opposed to $1B in the R budget).
Now for the differences. The major difference is taxes. The Republican budget actually reduces taxes. Property taxes is one of the most onerous taxes for everyone, but especially those who are elderly and those who have owned their homes for many years, watching the value skyrocket. The R budget would exempt the first $250,000 of a home’s value when calculating property taxes. That is a huge savings for those working families who are struggling to make ends meet. The D budget increases taxes by creating a new Income Tax. They will tell you it will only affect the “wealthy,” but as soon as this tax is passed, it will be an income tax on everyone the minute they need more money.
The R budget also eliminates the B&O tax on manufacturing. The B&O tax is an extremely onerous tax that is levied on businesses using their gross income – not their net income. Eliminating B&O taxes on manufacturing will allow those jobs to come to Washington State and keep Boeing here, a company that employs thousands of people and utilizes other businesses who employ thousands of others. The Democrat majority, on the other hand, will create a Cap & Tax program. They call it a “Cap & Invest” program, but all it does is tax the carbon produced by companies. The ones that produce “too much carbon” will have to pay a fee. The problem with that is that it doesn’t work. The biggest carbon producers either move to other states where these taxes don’t exist, or they just pay the higher fee and pass the higher price on to you. They won’t reduce the carbon emissions at all, but your prices go up and you have fewer jobs for your family members. This is a terrible idea, but they are determined.
Another tax issue in the R budget concerns taxes for roads and infrastructure. Most people know that with more efficient cars and more electric vehicles, the gas tax isn’t quite as much of a money-maker for the state as it used to be. The R budget takes the sales tax from all vehicles sold in the state and moves it to the transportation budget – this will end the problem of fewer gas taxes to pay for roads. The Democrats, on the other hand, are creating a new program of pay-per-mile. It’s only on electric vehicles now, but once in place, it will be applied to all of us. They won’t reduce the other taxes – they want more money, not less. The other increase in gas prices comes from Low Carbon Fuel Standards. This will make your fuel more expensive – some analyses say it will increase over fifty cents per gallon. The sad thing is that the increase in this gas price will provide not one penny towards roads. It will be consumed by the expensive process used to create these specialty fuels.
Many of the “investments” made by the Democrat budget are for programs to help people. There is more free daycare, free college, and increased money into paying the healthcare premiums for people. But it isn’t just those in poverty that are included in this increase – while it may be difficult for some to afford some of these things, it isn’t impossible, and the question always remains – should the taxpayers have all these tax increases to pay for someone else’s choices in life. Certainly, we should all care for those around us who are in need. But when you look at the taxes and harm to our economy because of the two sets of priorities, I have to go with the R budget for my preference. They fully fund programs to help those truly in need, but they don’t expand them to the point where they spend every dime we have.
Both budget spend more then the last biennium (2 year budget). The R budget is about $3B more than the last biennium, but the D budget spends $7B more – we are up to almost $60 Billion. And to make matter worse, the D budget completely wipes out our rainy day fund. What happens to all the new and expanded programs we now have when there is a downturn in the economy? How do we pay for these new and expanded programs once the one-time payments from the federal government goes away? Who gets a one-time gift of $1000 and buys a new Dodge Ram because the payments are only $800? Yes, you can make that first payment, but you won’t have the money next month to make the payment. Spending every dime you have and borrowing with a hope that the future income is either the same or more is foolish. It’s foolish for a household and it’s foolish for the state. They only way they can get more money in the future is to tax you for it.
It really is just a matter of priorities. Which budget reflects your priorities?
Links to the two bills –
Democrat bill (the one that passed) – http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2021-22/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5092-S.E.pdf
Republican bill (Democrats refused to give us a property tax break) – http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2021/soStrkingAmendmentS-2395.2.pdf
Floor debate on the Republican Budget – You should listen through to the end, because then you will hear the debate on the Democrat budget following the debate on the Republican bill. It’s an hour, but turn it on and listen while you are driving somewhere or doing some other task. It’s well worth the listen. The link is supposed to start the debate at the 1:52 hour mark. My computer sometimes pops it back to the beginning, so if you experience that glitch, please just move the debate to hour 1:52 and begin there.