Op-Ed: Not all legislators are tax-hungry space aliens
Special to the Chambers of Commerce
I appreciate receiving the Washington Pilots Association (WPA) publication “Wings,” and wish to respond to WPA President John Dobson's April/May 2010 article, “Olympia WA. . .Code name 'Area 52.'”
In the article, Dobson discussed how the efforts of WPA members helped to stop a 0.5 percent annual aviation excise tax. Dobson also said he was convinced during this past legislative session, “aliens had landed and they took over the minds of our elected officials in Olympia. Logic was out the door as they scrambled to cover a $2.8 billion deficit,” he wrote, adding, “My favorite line came from one senator who said, 'It is time to suspend the will of the people.'”
While I enjoy the analogy and mostly agree with Mr. Dobson, I want to point out that not all legislators are tax-hungry space aliens. I think it's important for the WPA membership to know there were legislators on their side who fought against these potentially crippling tax increases.
Throughout the 2010 legislative session, Republicans in both the House and Senate stood firmly against increasing taxes. We asserted that raising taxes in this recession when people have lost their jobs, families are struggling to pay their bills, and employers have cut back workers and hours just to stay afloat, is a bad idea. Instead of asking citizens to bail out the Legislature for its bad overspending habits, we felt the budget should be prioritized to focus on education, public safety and protection of the most vulnerable, and that the long-term solution to our budget problems is to provide reforms that protect and grow private-sector jobs.
We proposed a “Made in Washington” jobs package to reduce employers' costs so they could retain jobs and hire again. Rather than increasing taxes, House Republicans proposed more than $750 million in government reforms. Sadly, our efficiencies and jobs proposals were ignored by the Democrat majority which intended to raise taxes. We fought for 10 hours on the House floor to UPHOLD the will of the people and against suspension of Initiative 960, because it protected taxpayers from the Legislature's old tax-and-spend habits. Unfortunately, the majority party, with the support of Gov. Gregoire, voted to sweep the initiative out of its way so that taxes could be raised.
During the final weeks of the session, Democrat leaders proposed a lengthy laundry list of tax increases — including the aviation tax — all of which my Republican colleagues and I thought were not only unnecessary, but could be devastating to our state's economic recovery.
I applaud the efforts of the WPA and its membership in successfully fighting against the aviation tax. Your cards, letters, e-mails, phone calls and personal contacts made a big difference. Unfortunately, a majority of Democrats approved other tax increases totaling more than $800 million in the coming year, and $1.7 billion in the next biennium. EVERY REPUBLICAN VOTED NO! I invite you to go online and view who voted for and against the tax measure, Senate Bill 6143, at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=6143. When you reach the page, click on the “View Roll Call” links.
We should have used this legislative session to reform spending to ensure the state lives within its means. Instead, spending was only slightly reduced. The Democrat-approved tax increases provide only a temporary Band-Aid solution to a deficit that is expected to grow to nearly $3 billion when the Legislature meets again in January. I am concerned that unless we make the difficult and necessary decisions to restructure and prioritize spending in the budget, our state will continue to see revolving deficits for years to come.
My Republican colleagues and I are committed to put our state on a diet of fiscal responsibility while opposing tax increases that could cripple employers, families and Washington's economy. Learn more about our views on the budget and taxes, and how we are fighting for you at: https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/current-issues/budget-proposals/.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus and represents the 39th Legislative District. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or e-mail him through his Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen. His office address is: P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.