While House Democrats unveiled their proposed budget Monday, Rep. Kris Lytton, D-Anacortes, said that the House would not be voting on the tax increases they proposed to the tune of $8 billion over four years.
Of course they didn’t lead with that tidbit though.
“We’re putting money into human service programs, housing, homelessness, civil legal aid, public defense, parks and ensuring the quality care for our aging and developmentally disabled,” House budget chair Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, said at the news conference.
But still, this is just spin. If your budget is billions of dollars short of paying for itself, then you don’t have a budget. You have a “wish list,” as Senate Ways and Means chair John Braun, R-Centralia, calls it.
Ask any family or business if this is how they write their own budget, and you’ll get laughed out of the room. This isn’t normal and it isn’t how you start negotiations, which is why Braun has said it will be difficult to negotiate until Democrats show they have the votes for the tax increases needed to fund their spending list.
Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, was even more pessimistic, saying he didn’t believe the two sides could hammer out a deal before session ends on April 23 if Democrats don’t pass their needed revenue.
Looking at the taxes Democrats are proposing to hike, it’s no surprise they don’t want to vote on them. Their ironically named budget, “Families First,” would hurt the very people they say they are aiming to help.
Families would see a new internet sales tax, as well as tax increases on home purchases and bottled water under the House Democrats’ plan. The House’s tax increase on businesses could be passed onto families as well.
Then there is the capital gains income tax that Democrats would like us to believe would only hit the Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates types, when it actually could hit families saving for a big life event like sending their kids to college or health catastrophes. It would also hit a family that took a big risk to start a business and are now looking to sell it to retire.
And what’s worse, Democrats are claiming these tax increases are needed to fully fund education, but when faced with this option or the option to fund education within existing revenue, 56 percent of voters chose the latter.
Democrats currently hold a 50-48 majority in the House, so they can’t afford to lose even one defector. Perhaps Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, and his leadership team have serious doubts that they can keep their caucus together to get this massive tax increase on hardworking families off the House floor, which is why they won’t even try.
Senate Republicans are now in the unenviable position of negotiating a budget when we don’t even know what the majority of the House majority supports.
Rossi is right to be pessimistic about the Legislature finishing its work on time. House Democrats barely made it out of the gate before putting negotiations in a stalemate.
Keith Schipper is a Washington GOP strategist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.