Record spending in proposed state budgets, with no general tax relief. More analysis.

As the state Legislature moves into its final days, more analysis of the recently released state budget proposals has become available. The Washington Research Council reports,

The 2022 supplemental operating budgets proposed by the Senate Ways & Means chair and the House Appropriations chair are quite unusual (if not unique) in that they each would spend more on new policy items than the enacted biennial budget did. Usually supplementals make only moderate changes. The enacted biennial budget added $3.324 billion in new policy from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO), while the Senate chair’s supplemental would add $5.837 billion and the House chair’s supplemental would add $7.372 billion.

How large are the increases? Historically high.

Adjusted for inflation and compared to actual 2019–21 spending, the Senate chair’s proposal would be an increase of 14.8% and the House chair’s proposal would be an increase of 17.5%. The next highest biennial growth (adjusted for inflation) was 12.8% in 2017–19. Average biennial growth (adjusted for inflation) from 1993–95 through 2019–21 was 5.2%.

While no general tax relief is provided, the House budget includes a sales tax holiday, which has attracted some controversy.  Meanwhile, Democrats contend general tax relief is not sustainable (we ask, is the increased spending?) and Republicans say the targeted relief is not enough

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat comments on the tax debate.

[Sen. Patty, D-Bellevue] Kuderer, who said she likes the overall spending priorities of the budget, is one of a few Democrats who have been pushing her party to return some of the money to the public with a cut in “regressive” taxes.

“Washington is dead last in the nation in tax fairness,” she said Wednesday. “The sales tax is the most regressive of all of them.”

Kuderer and Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, co-sponsored a bill to cut the sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5%. It never got a hearing, though Democrats control the Legislature and the governor’s office.

He adds, of the reluctance to cut regressive taxes,

It’s a big reason voters here keep rejecting a state income tax. According to polls, people worry the new taxes will pile on top of the old, more and more and yet never enough, regardless of how much money comes in.

Democrats, you’re proving these critics right.

Again, we’ll see how this plays out over the next few days.