Editorial: “New taxes shouldn’t be first approach to state budget”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial board weighs in against the tax increases proposed in Gov. Inslee’s 2019-2021 budget. The editorial states,

Given that the state of Washington is expected to have a record amount of tax revenue — $50 billion — to fund state government over the next two years, the need to raise more cash with new taxes is debatable, if not dubious.

Yet, Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a $54.4 billion state operating budget, which is roughly a 20 percent increase from the current budget, that calls for $3.7 billion in new taxes.

One of those new revenue sources, a capital-gains tax, is simply unacceptable, as it is essentially an income tax — and that means it is unconstitutional in Washington state.

The governor’s budget, the Washington Research Council writes, proposes a spending increase of 22.3 percent from the current spending level. That’s on top of a 44 percent increase in state spending from 2008 through 2019.

The Union-Bulletin also takes a dim view of the other taxes proposed by the governor.

The other two tax hikes proposed by Inlsee are legal, but seem unnecessary given the record tax revenue. Inslee wants to increase the business-and-occupation-tax rate for services from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent, which would bring in an additional $2.6 billion over two years. He wants to increase the real estate excise tax.

In sum, the editorial states,

Before any new or increased taxes are considered, the Legislature needs to trim the wish list and try to write a budget solely based on the available $50 billion in income.

So far, this is the first editorial we’ve seen addressing the budget. We’ll watch for others and share them with you.