Senate Democrats’ budget slams middle class, with worse to come, Wilson says

OLYMPIA – A $59 billion budget passed Thursday by the Washington Senate slams middle-class working families, and the worst is still to come, says Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview.

Majority Democrats passed their budget bill, Senate Bill 5092, on a caucus-line vote, 27-22. All members of the Senate Republican Caucus were opposed. The bill now moves to the House for further consideration.

The Senate Democrats’ operating budget proposal for 2021-23 exceeds expected tax collections by nearly $3 billion. It assumes passage of two measures that would dramatically raise the price of gasoline, low carbon fuel standards and cap and trade. It also assumes passage of an income tax on capital gains that could be expanded to a broad-based tax on the middle class if it survives court challenges.

Senate Republicans earlier released their own budget proposal demonstrating that the state’s needs can be met without a tax increase.

“I get the idea my urban colleagues are living on a different planet,” Wilson said. “After our year-long Coronavirus shutdown, the people are telling me this is a time for healing and recovery. Yet here are, making their lives harder.

“Higher gas prices would slam the middle class and the poor, and their misery would be made worse by rising food prices and increased costs for anything transported by truck. The income tax would be extended in a heartbeat to the middle class, the moment the state faces financial trouble. And we can be sure trouble will come, as these stiff new taxes create massive disruption in our economy, stifle job creation and give business an incentive to relocate in a less-hostile environment.

“But the worst part is that we know this kind of reckless spending can’t be maintained. With this budget, state spending will have nearly doubled since 2011. This was precisely the mistake the Washington Legislature made just before the Great Recession, when wild spending forced massive budget cuts after the economy tanked. We’re setting ourselves up for trouble again. We all know it. Yet the Senate passed the bill anyway.”