Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Time flies! It's hard to believe we're halfway through our 60-day session. It's policy and fiscal cutoff time – our first major deadlines. What this means is any bill that wasn't approved by its respective committee is considered 'dead.' Although no bill is truly 'dead' until the final gavel drops on the last day of session, most bills won't see any further action this session.
We've already started voting on some of the policy that moved through the committee process. Some bills are good, and some are bad. We have a long road ahead as we head into our first long push, and late nights, voting on these policies on the House floor.
Fighting hard against new tax increases
Fighting against tax increases is one of my main priorities. And let me tell you, there definitely hasn't been a shortage of new tax bills that have already come forward.
Washington state continues to become more, and more expensive. When we're experiencing a time of increased state revenue, there's no reason we should even be considering raising your taxes yet again. Unfortunately, the majority party continues to introduce policy after policy that creates new tax increases and has become the new normal around Olympia.
As I mentioned in my update last week, we've started to see bad, expensive policies rushed to the House floor for votes. I voted against the low-carbon fuel standard bill that would do nothing to help our environment or provide funding for our transportation system but would continue to raise the price of gasoline and diesel, and the price of goods and services. For more information on this regressive, costly fuel mandate, please click here.
We also had our first late night on the House floor as we fought against another B&O (business and occupation) tax increase. In 2019, the Legislature passed House Bill 2158, expanding the Washington College Grant program for students at or below 100 percent of the median family income, and making the program an entitlement. It raised the service B&O tax rate for certain industries. Due to the large number of students applying for this entitlement, this program is projected to operate at a deficit and would need to be backfilled by the state's General Fund. This is where Senate Bill 6492 comes into play.
This new proposal:
- Expands the B&O tax created last session through House Bill 2158 to 4,400 new businesses who provide 465,000 jobs.
- Affects a total of 14,000 businesses and 886,000 employees.
- Increases tax revenue from $216 million to $240 million.
This is a tax increase that will make life more unaffordable for Washington families and businesses.
It will make health care and home construction more expensive, compounding the largest problems facing our state, particularly in districts like ours and other rural communities.
We believe every student should have the opportunity to attend higher education institutions or workforce training programs when they finish high school. However, this tax increase is unnecessary as college scholarships will be funded whether or not this particular increase passes. We have record revenues and should fund our priorities using existing resources.
This is another example of our unaccountable government.
This bill was rushed through the process in order to fix a problem created by a bill rushed through the process last year.
My colleagues and I brought forward over 34 amendments in an attempt to protect businesses around the state from this tax, while still looking out for those students in need of financial assistance to further their education. Unfortunately, all our efforts were defeated.
The bill passed the House chambers by a vote of 52-45. There were five Democrats who voted against this bad policy.
Gov. Inslee signed this bill as his first official legislation of the 2020 session. The bill contained what's called an emergency clause and went into effect as soon as the governor signed it.
I will continue to fight against policies like this that ultimately increase your cost of living on the backs of an unaccountable government.
I'll keep you posted on all the policies, good and bad, that we vote on in the coming days and week on the House floor.
It's an honor to serve you.