The Washington Research Council has posted another assessment of House and Senate budget proposals, this time adding in federal funds. WRC senior analyst Emily Makings writes,
As I showed yesterday, the state has already allocated or appropriated $7.311 billion in federal relief dollars. On top of that, the Senate-passed operating budget would appropriate $6.837 billion and the House-passed operating budget would appropriate $8.776 billion in federal relief over three years. This relief funding does not just maintain state spending (as the federal stimulus funds did in the Great Recession)—it substantially increases spending even as spending from state funds also increases.
As she points out the federal dollars are spent in the 2019-2021 and 2021-2023 budgets. The WRC chart shows the unprecedented spending growth.
Meanwhile, as The Lens reports, budget talks continue, as does opposition to proposed tax increases. Reporter TJ Martinell notes the large increase in proposed spending and the surprising growth in state revenues in recent revenue forecasts.
It’s for that reason, among others, that Association of Washington Business (AWB) President Kris Johnson says legislators should scrap the capital gains income tax included in the budget. In an opinion column for the Kitsap Sun, Johnson wrote that “some lawmakers are still debating whether to raise taxes or introduce new taxes such as a tax on capital gains, a move that would put the state on a path toward an income tax. It’s time for the debate to end.”
He added that the recently passed American Rescue Plan will send a “firehose of federal relief funds to state and local governments and school districts.”
As Makings writes,
Including the federal relief, the growth rates proposed in each supplemental compared to the previous biennium would be by far the highest, going back to at least the mid-1990s.
Hard to see that adding a controversial and unpopular tax to the mix is justified.