Tax Fight Looms As Washington Legislature Convenes
It’s said that death and taxes are the only certain things in life. But it’s almost always certain that Democrats and Republicans will disagree on taxes.
And so it was as budget writers for the Washington House and Senate slugged it out at a legislative preview forum in Olympia. Republicans control the Washington Senate, Democrats the House. Both sides are staking out different positions on higher taxes.
And a battle looms as the Washington legislature convenes Monday for a 105-day budget-writing session.
“Remember, when we raise taxes, we’re taking money out of your pocket,” said Senate budget chair Andy Hill, a Republican. He’s not drawing a line in the sand on higher taxes.
“Never signed the Grover Norquist pledge, no new taxes,” Hill said. “But taxes should be the last resort and not the first response.”
“Doing new taxes is not the first,” responded House budget chair Ross Hunter, a Democrat. He said his belief that taxes will be needed comes after a lengthy review of the budget.
“My conclusion is I don’t see a reasonable outcome that doesn’t involve additional revenue from where we are today,” Hunter said.
So why all this talk of taxes in the Washington capitol - especially when the economy is replenishing state coffers? Because lawmakers face a long list of post-recession spending obligations and demands. They include a Supreme Court order to fully fund basic education and pressure to give state employees cost-of-living increases.
A final decision on taxes won’t come for several months. That leaves plenty of time for the tax debate to rage.