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Inslee budget proposes new and higher taxes

Opponents instead urge rebates, term it a “spending spree”

Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed a nearly $10 billion increase in state spending in the next two years to increase wages of state employees, improve the mental health system and protect threatened salmon and orca populations.

Inslee’s budget plan calls for a capital gains tax that opponents consider to be illegal and a boost in the business and occupation tax for services rendered by the likes of lawyers and accounting firms.

Republican opponents of the Democrat Governor rapidly termed the budget proposal as “an extreme spending spree” and urged instead tax rebates because state revenues have consistently been surpassing expectations due to a healthy economy.

Inslee’s plan now will go before the Democrat-controlled state Legislature where the arguments will boil down to whether taxes should go up, level off or go down. The 105-day 2019 Legislative Session is scheduled to start on January 14.

For perspective, the current two-year state operating budget is about $44.6 billion. Increased education costs and inflation would add $6.5 million in new expenses, which is about $900 million more that the state’s projections for increased tax collections generated by Washington State’s economy.

Democrats maintain that the rising revenues aren’t keeping pace with expenses. Republicans argue that spending should be reduced before relying on tax increases to balance the state budget.

Capital gains taxes are nothing more than a “repackaged income tax,” said state Representative Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia. Since the 1930s, state voters have rejected 10 income tax proposals.

“It’s impossible to justify tax increases,” Barkis said. “How can you justify tax increases when you have seen double-digit increases in revenues coming into the state, more than enough revenue to take care of the State of Washington?”

Washington Retail is assessing Inslee’s spending plan before adopting specific positions on various aspects of it. Those positions may adjust depending upon the separate spending plans yet to come from members of the state Senate and House of Representatives.

Sources: Spokesman-Review, Washington Policy Center

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