This week, Governor Jay Inslee finally unveiled his long-awaited budget proposal. Unfortunately, though he promised to avoid tax increases on the campaign trail, his budget relies on new taxes totaling $1.4 billion over the next two years, including tax increases on businesses, oil refineries, beer and bottled-water drinkers and out-of-state shoppers.
Particularly disturbing is Inslee’s suggestion that state tuition should be increased by as much as 5 percent. It is really disheartening to college students everywhere, when the Majority Coalition Caucus outlines a plan that reduces tuition by 3 percent across the board, yet the governor is calling for increasing rates for students enrolled in our two biggest schools by 5 percent per year?
Additionally, how are we going to promote private-sector job growth when his budget calls for additional taxes on state businesses, computer software, phone service and new taxes on automobile purchases? Yet the proposed package includes approximately $800 million in increased compensation payments for public employees. This proposal is not the direction our caucus is heading, nor do I expect any of our 25 members to support this plan.
Here’s a list of twelve tax increase proposals by the governor for the 2013-15 biennium, which are now called the governor’s “Dirty Dozen:”
1. Tax increase on recycled fuel environmental programs at Washington’s oil refineries – $40.8 million.
2. Tax increase on new car purchases – $94 million.
3. Tax increase on bottled water – $51 million.
4. Business and occupation tax increase on most state businesses – $94 million.
5. Making temporary taxes set to expire on service-industry businesses permanent – $534 million.
6. Tax increase on prescription drugs – $29 million.
7. Tax increase on computer software – $78 million.
8. Tax increase on telephone services – $83 million.
9. Tax increase on import commerce – $24 million.
10. Making temporary taxes set to expire on beer permanent, and extending the tax to the state’s microbreweries (which were originally exempt) – $127 million.
11. Extending state sales tax to non-residents of Washington state – $63 million.
12. Tax increase on farm vehicles – $5 million.