Improved revenue forecast leads key GOP legislator to call for property tax relief

The uptick in the state revenue forecast we wrote about yesterday already has sparked some discussion about how the money might be used. Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, suggests property tax relief might be in order.

The Chronicle reports,

As state tax collections and projected revenues are on the rise, Sen. John Braun has proposed utilizing $1 billion of the state’s unexpected revenue to smooth next year’s transition to the new education-funding system lawmakers adopted in June.

The Legislature’s overhaul of the K-12 funding system for the state slated a tax increase of 81 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value next year.

“Creating an equitable and long-term education funding system for our state required a great deal of compromise,” Braun, R-Centralia said. “Anything more than a short-term property-tax increase necessary to transition between funding systems was not my preferred method. Ultimately, a one-year increase was necessary to reach an agreement across the aisle.”

The plan is spelled out on Braun’ legislative web page.

Every year state government issues quarterly, four-year revenue projections. Braun proposes using 75 percent of the unexpected revenue growth – the amount that exceeds the June 2017 forecast – over the next four years to reduce the impacts of the $0.81 state property-tax rate increase in 2018. The total offset to the state property tax would be capped at $1 billion.

“With the Legislature having already passed a budget that balances for the next four years, this would provide us with an opportunity to fully fund state government while reducing the impact on working families and people with fixed incomes,” said Braun.

Although Braun suggests the proposal will receive bipartisan support, the Seattle Times reports consensus is far from assured.

Even before the school plan passed the Legislature in June, some Democrats were discussing the possibility of reducing the property-tax hike if they regain control of the state Senate in a key November election.

Inslee this summer joined that chorus.

But Wednesday, Inslee’s office and Democratic House Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan of Covington said the extra dollars are needed to plug holes in the existing budget.

And the budget debate continues.