Property taxes are making Washington unaffordable
Washington is consistently ranked one of the most expensive states to live in – and property taxes play a large role in that.
Since Gov. Jay Inslee took office in 2013, he has spent an incredible amount of money forwarding his agenda. Rather than making cuts in other parts of the budget to pay for that, he has simply increased spending by 75%. Washingtonians are left to foot the bill through spending our rainy day fund and increasing taxes.
When asked about relief from gas and property taxes, Inslee touts a Washington Families Tax Credit that would not go into effect until 2023 – when other tax increases are set to go into effect as well. Washington State Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, took Inslee to task for not responding to the urgent needs of Washingtonians. “The governor and his people keep pointing to the Working Families Tax Credit because they have nothing else,” Braun said. “It’s like a pony that knows only one trick, so that’s all you’re going to get, even if everyone knows the tax credit won’t do a thing to help people now.”
Washington is bringing in more money than expected in revenue forecasts, providing room in the budget to ease the financial burden on Washingtonians. At a recent Economic Revenue Forecast Council quarterly meeting, Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, said, “We’re up another $1.4 billion,” he said. “We’re up by $6 billion in this biennium alone. “Why we can’t look at, you know, some form of tax relief is beyond me.”
Washington’s business community agrees that relief is both necessary and possible. Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business wrote, between increased revenue, a drop in costs and federal relief funds, “There has never been a better time for budget-writers to be champions for the economy and to provide needed tax relief and support for Washington employers and employees.”
Legislators have tried to put this money back in the hands of Washingtonians. Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, Introduced Senate Bill 5769 which would have exempted the first $250,000 of a primary residence from the state property tax. The explains that this would provide “over $1,000,000,000 a year in progressive property tax relief.” The bill did not make it out of committee.
In a statement, Wilson wrote, “The people of Washington have endured an awful lot of government greed since Olympia fell back under one-party rule several years ago, but what we’ve seen this year is at a different level. Despite a 15-billion-dollar surplus, the budget passed by the majority in March did nothing to offer direct financial relief to families.” She continued, “Let’s remember also how Democrats not only opposed our bill to reduce property taxes, but even blocked Republican legislation to make diapers tax-free and backtracked on their own modest offer to allow free entry to state parks and fairs.”
Around the country, state executives and legislators are finding ways to minimize the effects of inflation and make their states prosper. Washington is only making itself less hospitable to all but the wealthy.