House floor debate highlights
Pushing back against an $8 billion (18%) increase in state spending and $2 billion in new taxes increases | House Bill 1109 | April 28, 2019
The Democrats passed the 2019-21 operating budget in the last minutes of the legislative session. The budget spends $52.4 billion from near general fund, plus opportunity pathway accounts, and $99.6 billion in total funds. This represents an $8 billion – or 18% – increase over the current state spending level (2017-19 state spending before supplemental). The budget also relies on $2 billion in new taxes increases, despite the fact there was a budget surplus. On the House floor, we explained why this approach is fiscally irresponsible and sets our state up for major problems in the next economic downturn. We also argued that the budget could have been balanced, and priorities could be adequately funded, without several new tax increases on Washingtonians.
- The operating budget funds K-12 education, higher education, corrections, human services, and other government operations.
- The2019-21 budget cycle runs July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021.
- 2019 Citizen’s Guide to the Budget
- A Legislative Guide to Washington’s Tax Structure | 2019
Fighting against nearly $1 billion in new tax increases on businesses providing certain services | House Bill 2158 | April 27, 2019
House Bill 2158 will create a B&O surcharge on businesses providing certain services to pay for workforce education. This will negatively impact around 90,000 businesses and result in new costs being passed along to consumers. We made these arguments, and others, on the House floor. Despite bipartisan opposition, the bill passed 52-45.
Advocating for lower property taxes and a fair and equitable school-funding system | House Bill 2140 | April 27, 2019
House Bill 2140 will:
- Modify the amount of local levies that can be collected for K-12 enrichment programs, which will increase local property taxes for many taxpayers.
- Provide school districts with two different local levy policies, allowing districts to choose between a rate based levy lid or a per pupil levy lid.
- Modify local effort assistance (LEA) to provide tax relief to eligible districts.
- Deposit the entire 2017 state property tax increase in the Education Legacy Trust Account instead of the general fund.
This approach will increase local levies and recreate the inequities that the Legislature worked so hard to fix with the McCleary solution. It will also result in wealthy school districts getting richer, while other school districts fall behind. This is unfair to both taxpayers and school districts, and sets our state up for more legal problems when it comes to funding education. We made these arguments on the House floor, but the measure passed 54-42.
House Bills 2156, 2157 and 2158, collectively, would increase taxes by $4.5 billion over the next four years through:
- Creating a new capital gains income tax;
- imposing a business and occupation (B&O) surcharge on the income from various services; creating a new graduated real estate excise tax; and
- changing the nonresidential retail sales tax exemption to an annual remittance.
Democrats advanced these measures out of the House Finance Committee, with every Republican voting “no.” We offered several amendments, but most were rejected. In our arguments, we explained why taxes do not need to be raised on anyone, how our state has a budget surplus, and why new tax increases would hurt families, employers and our economy.
Fighting to preserve union, family-wage jobs in our state | Senate Bill 5579 | April 15, 2019
Senate Bill 5579 will prohibit a facility from unloading or loading crude oil with a vapor pressure greater than 9 pounds per square inch (psi), which targets the cleaner-burning Bakken crude, and prohibit a facility from storing crude oil with a vapor pressure greater than 9 psi. It would only kick in when the volume of oil being transported over the rails increases 10% above 2018 levels. This could result in no crude oil being offloaded by rail in our state, which would negatively impact our refineries, curtail the supply to JBLM, and eliminate union, family-wage jobs in our state. When these workers came to Olympia to share their technical knowledge, safety records and pleas to save their jobs, Democrats moved forward in spite of overwhelming evidence against the policy. We fought for these workers, jobs and communities on the House floor. We also offered thoughtful amendments to improve the legislation, but they were rejected. The measure passed along party lines 53-40.
The so-called Clean Energy Bill | Senate Bill 5116 | April 11, 2019
Senate Bill 5116 will: require utilities to remove coal from their electricity production by December 31, 2025; require all retail sales of electricity be greenhouse gas neutral by January 1, 2030; create statewide policy that supply of retail electricity be 100% clean by January 1, 2045; and create penalties for noncompliance for Coal Elimination or Greenhouse Gas Neutral Standard. The bill passed 56-42, with every House Republican and one House Democrat voting “no.” On the House floor, we explained how this approach will increase energy costs for individuals, families and employers in our state, and how it fails to address proper forest management and wildfires. We offered a striking amendment, but House Democrats rejected it. Learn more about our alternative solution for clean energy here.
House Democrats’ 2019-21 operating budget proposal | House Bill 1109 | March 29, 2019
House Bill 1109 would: make appropriations for the 2019-21 budget cycle; increase the operating budget by $8.6 billion (19.4%); and rely on $4.2 billion in new tax increases over four years, including a new capital gains income tax. The legislation passed 56-38, with every House Republican voting “no.” We made arguments for responsible state spending, and against new tax increases, on the House floor. In attempt to improve the bill, we also offered 33 amendments – with just 12 being accepted/adopted. You can learn more about some of these successful amendments here.
Regressive low carbon fuel standard bill | House Bill 1110 | March 12, 2019
House Bill 1110 would direct the Department of Ecology to adopt, by rule, standards to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of fuel energy in transportation fuels over time. This would follow California’s model, which has raised gas and diesel prices there and will continue to in the future. We think this new program is regressive, would raise the cost of gas and goods, and not do anything meaningful for the environment.
Anti-Janus bill | House Bill 1575 | March 11, 2019
House Bill 1575 is another response to the U.S. Supreme Court Janus decision. The measure would make it more difficult for public employees to exercise their right to not join a union, and to get out of a union. For example: it would allow employees to opt-in to union via recorded voice, electronic or written authorization, but they can only opt-out of a union via written authorization. We feel this approach is fundamentally unfair to public employees.
Governor’s public option health care bill | House Bill 1523 | March 8, 2019
House Bill 1523 would require the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (exchange) to develop standardized health plans. The measure would expressly limit choice over time in favor of one-size-fits-all plans meeting specific government requirements. We believe this approach would increase health care costs, reduce options and eliminate providers.