In conjunction with the fiscal cutoff for legislative committees today, a panel held by Balance Our Tax Code convened a group of House Democrats and advocates to discuss progressive revenue bills that will advance.
Bills discussed included HB 1494 on anti displacement property tax exemptions, HB 1297 concerning working families tax exemption, a new capital gains tax proposal and HB 1406 a wealth tax proposal.
HB 1494 is still in the House Finance Committee, while executive action is expected to be taken on HB 1297. Capital gains passed the Senate Ways and Means Senate Committee and HB 1406 is still in the Finance Committee.
All the bills, except HB 1494, have companion bills in the Senate that are also in committee, increasing the likelihood that these bills will come to the Senate or House floor in some form.
Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley said equity is a consideration when looking at this slate of bills.
“I certainly think that we need to be anti-racist in the way that we look at our tax code,” said Rep. Harris-Talley.
Other panelists discussed the importance of lowering the cost of living and delivering services by tapping into new revenue sources.
With the success of those millionaires and billionaires, it is more expensive for everybody else to live here and it is more expensive for us to administer the services that are essential in this state,” said Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments.
Rep. Tana Senn, sponsor of the House capital gains tax, aims to send misplaced wealth to those in the Washington communities who are in need.
“I am so looking forward to the investments we can make for the families who are at the lowest end of the economic spectrum,” said Rep. Senn.
According to Rep. Senn, childcare deserts are costing working class families $14 billion a year, and the money accrued from capital gains should be funneled into aiding those families.
I certainly see the Capital gains tax and funding childcare as a critical component if not the most critical component to economic recovery,” said Rep. Senn.
The aim for these bills is to reduce the amount of taxes paid by working class families and using the wealth accrued by the top 1% to invest in programs to improve the wealth gap.
“Right now some of us are contributing way too much, and right now the folks who are suffering most are those same people,” said Rep. Harris-Talley.
Bills like HB 1297 require budgeting to launch the program and give out necessary benefits. That cannot be done without more money in the budget. Progressive legislators hope to get the necessary funds from capital gains and wealth taxes.
“The budget is really a moral document,” said Rep. Senn.
Some in the opposition worry that these additional taxes will impact working class people just as much as the 1% of wealth. However, progressives refute that.
“We do have really important exemptions in both capital gains tax bills to make sure that working families are not going to be paying for this. This will truly impact just the top 1% in our state.” said Rep. Senn.
In preparation for a long partisan fight, legislators were asked if Washingtonians could see these measures in a referendum. Rep. Senn and Rep. Harris-Talley hope that it does not need to come to that.
Childcare can’t wait, our community investments can’t wait and the capital gains that we will be missing out on we also shouldn’t be missing out on.” said Rep. Senn.
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