Dear Friends and Neighbors,
You are invited!
Please join me at one of my upcoming “coffees” to talk about the Legislative session, the budget, taxes and other issues. I look forward to seeing you!
Saturday, March 27
10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Sheffield Manor, 125 N. Wamba Rd. in Prosser
1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Apollo Hall, 35 Apollo Blvd. in Richland
Tuesday, April 6
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CSA Building, 719 Jadwin in Richland
House Democrats passed their $755 million tax package in the early morning hours of March 9. I joined with all of my House Republican colleagues in voting against Senate Bill 6143, which contained 21 new and increased taxes including an increase in the cigarette tax, an increase in certain B&O tax rates for businesses, a tax on candy, gum, and bottled water.
Increasing the cigarette tax by a dollar-per-pack is enough to send people packing across state lines to make their purchases. And when citizens go to Idaho or Oregon to buy their cigarettes, they likely will stock up on gum, candy and bottled water while they're at it.
I believe Idaho and Oregon will be thanking Washington for this proposal as it will benefit their economies and their employers more than ours. In fact, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter sent what was termed a “love letter” to businesses in Washington and Oregon, urging employers faced with rising taxes to move to “business-friendly” Idaho:
“We now are reaching out to hundreds of Oregon businesses, and will do the same with those in Washington if the legislature there follows Oregon's lead. What we can offer is a business-friendly State government, a highly qualified and motivated work force, and communities where people understand that while government cannot be the solution to their problems it can and must be a champion for their own solutions.”
Another tax increase being considered that would impact jobs in Washington and could increase gas prices by 3-cents per gallon is the hazardous substance tax in House Bill 3181. As proposed in the House, the tax would generate an additional $110.6 million from May 2010 through June 2011.
I also have a problem with the idea of closing certain 'tax loopholes.' The term 'tax loophole' implies that some people in some industries worked the system and found a way to get out of paying a tax that they're supposed to be paying. But the truth is, these aren't loopholes, they're incentives. Many of them have gone through intense study and it's been found that we could increase business and infrastructure investment into our state if we made Washington more attractive to employers. In essence, they help maintain and create jobs! Eliminating these incentives will cost us jobs and lead to longer delays in rehiring those already laid off.
Unfortunately, there's nothing in this tax proposal that will help maintain jobs in this state. These are short-term gimmicks and the only lasting effects they'll have are negative – they are going to hurt struggling families and employers.
Because House and Senate budget writers can't agree on which of your taxes they should raise, we are heading for a special session at a cost of over $20,000 per day! This isn't going to help our budget situation. We have tried to work across the aisle to find solutions that would balance the budget without raising taxes, but have been ignored. And now more taxpayer dollars will be spent because of the failed leadership of the majority party.
I still believe there's time for the Legislature to listen to the will of the people. We can balance this budget without raising taxes if we embrace true government reform and look for additional efficiencies within all areas of the budget. We need to prioritize and cut spending the same way families and employers all across the state have done.
Thanks for taking the time read my e-newsletter. I look forward to seeing you soon!