Expectations tend to be modest for the short legislative session that begins Monday. That would seem to be appropriate, after last year’s substantial increases in taxes and state spending. Gov. Inslee proposed a supplemental budget with no general tax increase, though he did call for tapping reserves to fund programs to alleviate homelessness.
The Seattle Times notes that the governor’s budget priorities do not include education.
His office thinks the state — after funneling $12 billion into K-12 education since 2013 — has “largely tackled” the issue…
Legislative leaders appear to share the belief, reporter Neal Morton writes,
Similarly, when state House and Senate leaders joined The Associated Press on Thursday for a preview of their priorities this year, only one — Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane — mentioned special education at the top of his agenda. Early learning also got a nod.
That’s not all.
And Washington voters seem to agree with Inslee.
Between 2015 and 2018, as a landmark school-funding case forced the state to fix its broken K-12 budget, education claimed the top spot among voter concerns, according to years of Crosscut-Elway polling data. That case, known as McCleary, ended in late 2018, and now, according to new poll results released Thursday, education has dropped to sixth place among voters’ highest priorities, with homelessness as the first.
In The Lens, TJ Martinell previews the session. Read the story for more detail. Here are his highlights.
Topics likely to be examined this session include:
- I-976’s $30 car tab limit and its impact to the multimodal fund;
- A statewide low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) similar to that proposed by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA);
- A capital gains income tax;
- Sound Transit and ST3’s motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) depreciation schedule;
- Local transportation infrastructure funding; and
- Land-use, rent control and housing reform.
However, stakeholders say many of these issues are unlikely to gain traction. Among them is the capital gains income tax. Similar taxes have been introduced in recent sessions as stand-alone bills or as part of an operating budget proposal, but none have cleared the legislature. Governor Jay Inslee’s past operating budget proposals have also called for a capital gains income tax – though that is not the case with the 2020 supplemental budget.
The News Tribune reports on four things the Legislature might (or might not) do, based on Thursday’s AP preview. They are housing and homelessness, car tabs, gun background checks, and a very low likelihood that a capital gains income tax – or any other tax increase – will pass. Here’s what they say about the fiscal issues:
House Speaker-designate Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said the House will consider the impact of I-976, especially its implications for “folks who are most vulnerable.” Democratic lawmakers have said they anticipate making deep cuts in the transportation budget in response to I-976, but hope to do so without damaging services, such as transit for the disabled and those with lower incomes.
…Billig said there has been bipartisan interest in recent years in making the state tax system more fair, but he hasn’t seen a bill “that will pass in 60 days to help with tax fairness.”..
Jinkins noted that she has sponsored legislation to start levying a capital gains tax for seven years, but she wouldn’t say whether the House would pursue it this year…
Inslee proposed a capital gains tax for last year’s 105-day legislative session, but it didn’t go anywhere. He hasn’t called for election-year action.