Op-Ed: A session of taxes and missed opportunities to create jobs
Special to the Chambers of Commerce
The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to adjourn March 11, and many employers feel the end of the 2010 session cannot happen fast enough. For every day the Legislature was in session, more taxes and fees were proposed, many of which could come down like a ton of bricks on business owners.
As many as 77 revenue bills have been proposed that, if combined, would increase taxes and fees by $11.46 billion in the $30.5 billion operating budget during 2011-13.
On Feb. 23, Senate Democrats shared their proposed 2010 supplemental operating budget. It included $918 million in new tax increases. A 0.3 percent sales tax increase is part of their plan, raising $313 million. They would also add a one-dollar-per pack tax to cigarettes. The bulk of the Senate budget would increase taxes on various businesses across the state by $518 million. They call this “closing tax loopholes,” when in fact, it's a tax increase on employers.
That same day, House Democrats unveiled their budget proposal. Their plan would solve 32 percent of the $2.7 billion budget shortfall with $857 million in higher taxes, while only 24 percent would be addressed with spending reductions. Their plan provided no significant reform in how government delivers state services.
The governor has also proposed a $760 million tax increase package. Her plan would: repeal a B&O tax credit on syrup; increase taxes on petroleum products such as gasoline, household cleaning products and commercial fertilizers; add a new 1-cent-per ounce tax on bottled water, essentially doubling the cost of a case of bottled water; increase the cigarette tax by a dollar per pack; add a five-cent tax increase on every 12 ounces of soda pop, and extend the sales tax to non-floured candy and gum.
Most disappointing is the heavy impact any tax increase would have on families and businesses struggling in this difficult economy.
My House Republican colleagues and I have fought hard against these tax proposals. We believe the best way to address our state's budget shortfall is to get people working again. We know a strong economy makes people less reliant on government services and at the same time generates the revenue that helps us carry out the core functions of government. Simply raising taxes has the opposite effect.
That's why we introduced our “Made in Washington” jobs legislation, which focused on reducing workers' compensation and unemployment insurance rates, reforming our state's regulatory system, and reducing energy and health care costs. Unfortunately, majority Democrats blocked nearly all our job creation bills while advancing tax legislation.
These tough times should be used as an opportunity for real reform in state government. This means prioritizing our budget to focus on education, public safety and services for our most vulnerable citizens. There are much better and more effective ways to create revenue than tax increases. Citizens should be allowed to keep more of their own money to help create jobs.
I invite your comments. You can e-mail me from my Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.
EDITOR'S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or e-mail him and sign up for his e-newsletter at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen. His office address is: P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.