House Finance Committee Approves New Taxes

Majority Democrats gave little notice before holding an executive session Friday morning in the House Finance Committee where they approved billions of dollars in new and increased taxes. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast reports from the state Capitol.

SATTGAST: Three bills would cost taxpayers in Washington state an additional four-point-five billion dollars over the next four years.

ORCUTT: “First of all, we don’t have a need for tax increases. This is a want by the majority party. They want to spend more money.”

SATTGAST:
Representative Ed Orcutt is the ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee. He says the state is already enjoying an additional $4 billion dollars in new revenue because of a strong economy without tax increases. Orcutt says that’s apparently not enough for legislative Democrats who want to spend more.

ORCUTT: “They tend to look at the recipients of this tax revenue and not the people that they’re taking the taxes from.”

SATTGAST: Collectively, House Bills 2156, 2157 and 2158 would create a new capital gains income tax, impose a business and occupation surcharge on the income from various services, create a new progressive real estate excise tax, and change the nonresidential retail sales tax exemption to an annual remittance. In total, about four-and-a-half billion dollars.

STOKESBARY: “I think the impact could be devastating.”

SATTGAST: Representative Drew Stokesbary is the lead Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

STOKESBARY: “We saw this in 2007. It looked like the economy was going really well. The Legislature raised taxes. The Legislature increased spending. And then when the crash happened, it made all of the cuts that much more painful.”

SATTGAST: That crash – the Great Recession of 2008 – resulted in multi-billion dollar state budget deficits – something Orcutt fears may be just around the corner as economists predict another economic slowdown within the next two years – and spending in the proposed budget could balloon from 44-billion dollars to around $53 billion dollars.

ORCUTT: “You know, they say the bigger they are, the harder they fall. The bigger budget we have, the bigger risk of a budget deficit we have.”

SATTGAST: With scheduled adjournment of the legislative session on April 28th, the tax bills could come to the House floor for a vote within days. Republicans alone don’t have the votes to stop them, so they’re hoping that Washingtonians will get involved to apply the brakes.

John Sattgast, Olympia.