At their regular press conference, Republican leaders criticized their Democratic counterparts for not putting the spending portion of the House budget proposal to a vote.
House Democrats released their budget proposal last Monday, and suggest drawing revenue from a capital gains tax and an increase to the business & operations tax. Senate Republicans, on the other hand, proposed a levy swap — increasing the property tax in property-rich districts, while decreasing the property tax in property-poor districts — to bring in revenue.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, argued that the Republicans’ Senate budget proposal should be taken more seriously because it went through a “hard vote,” and he said Democrats didn’t put their proposal to the same test yet.
“There’s the vote for whichever caucus comes out with a lower growth rate, because people want more money. That is not an easy vote. If you watched the hearing, you knew there were a lot of people that were not happy with the initial bud proposed by the Senate. I think it was a good budget myself, but that is not an easy budget because it’s the lower-spending budget” he said at the conference. “The other hard vote that you do to get credibility in the negotiation, if you happen to be the caucus that spends the most money, is how you are going to pay for it. I don’t think you have equivalent positions until each caucus has taken that hard vote”
Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, had a shorter way of putting it.
“Some would say a budget that doesn’t include the resources is a fake budget,” Schoesler said at the conference. When pressed about who might say that, he just added, “Some would say that.”
Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, argued Democrats’ budget may not address the McCleary fix.
“They allow virtually everything to continue as the status quo and just write a slightly larger check for the state,” he said. “And I think most of us up here are concerned that that approach will only make McCleary 2.0 inevitable,” he said.
Stokesbary also pointed to the capital gains tax as a weakness in Democrats’ budget.
“If Washington passes this capital gains tax, we’d be the only state in the entire country that taxes capital gains higher than ordinary income,” he said.
Of course, Washington is one of seven states that do not not have an income tax at all.
Schoesler had said he wanted to take a moment to linger on what he considered a positive note.
“I think the past week we focus on what isn’t happening or the negatives too often here. Last week the Senate passed a capital budget unanimously. That’s not easily done with any budget, any policy of substance in Olympia,” he said.