The current state of Washington: 10 facts every citizen should know

The current state of Washington: 10 facts every citizen should know

Expect & Demand Better! 

Homeownership and affordability: 7th worst in country, and getting worse

  • A declining share of Washingtonians are achieving the American Dream of homeownership – At the end of 2005, 69% of Washingtonians lived in owner-occupied housing. At the end of 2020, that figure had dropped to under 63%, ranking Washington 7th lowest in the country.
  • Significant racial disparities in homeownership – Minority homeownership is even more scarce.  In the Puget Sound region, only 28% of African Americans own vs. rent, and 37% of Hispanics. 
  • We rank in the bottom 10 in housing affordability – Washington ranks 7th worst in the country in housing affordability, which is a metric that compares median incomes to the mortgage for a median priced house.    
  • Produced 225,000 fewer housing units than needed in last 15 years – Washington is producing fewer housing units than in prior decades. One report placed the housing underproduction at 225,000 fewer housing units produced from 2000 to 2015 than what was needed, ranking us 8th worst in the country. 
  • Housing underproduction impacts renters as well – The trickle-down effects of underproduction of housing impacts not only those hoping to become homeowners, but also renters in the form of escalating rents. Washington renters spent the 7th highest percent of income on median rent in the nation, significantly up from 2005.

Democrat Action: Rejected bills that would spur more home production and lower the costs of new housing (SB 6470 & 6457 in 2020) and instituted $300 million in new taxes on real estate transactions (HB 1277 in 2021).

Thoughts for consideration

  • First-time home buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to find homes they can afford.  This can lead to longer commutes, more traffic on the highways, and more transportation pollution.
  • Washingtonians are being priced out of their homes.  You can spend a lifetime paying down your mortgage, but then unable to pay your property taxes as the price of housing skyrockets.
  • Olympia mandates and ever-increasing environmental requirements continue to add to the price of new construction.
  • Learn more from House Republicans: Bills passed by Democrats that have contributed to our housing crisis

Homeless – Washington (and California) saw country’s largest increase in unsheltered and chronically homeless in last decade while the rest of the country saw a decline

  • Unsheltered (those living on the street) – 2nd largest increase in unsheltered homeless in country (trailing only California) over the last decade.
  • Percentagewise, saw larger increase than California (up 70% vs. California up 55%).
  • Outside of Washington and California, the rest of the nation saw a 34% decline in unsheltered homeless.
  • Chronically homeless – 2nd largest increase in chronically homeless in country (again trailing only California) over the last decade.
  • Percentagewise, saw larger increase than California (up 221% vs. California up 66%).
  • Outside of Washington and California, the rest of the nation saw a 17% decline in chronically homeless.
  • Learn more: Washington state’s rise in homelessness outpaced the nation’s, according to report | The Seattle Times | March 20, 2021

Democrat Action: Voted to allow homeless encampments on school property (2021 budget amendment).

Thoughts for consideration

  • In the vast majority of homeless cases, it’s about drug addiction and mental health, not poverty. We have to address the drug addiction and mental health issues of our homeless population.
  • Washington is following California’s failed track record of low-barrier housing and allowing open drug use on the streets.
  • Democrat policies are failing the chronically addicted, those in mental health crisis, small business owners, our communities and families.

Drug overdose deaths at all-time high

Democrat Action: Introduced bills, and passed them out of policy committees, to legalize possession of hard drugs, including methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and LSD (SB 5476 in 2021).

Thoughts for consideration

  • Legalizing the possession of hard drugs like LSD, cocaine, heroin, and meth is the wrong approach to public safety and health.
  • We need to strengthen our mental health and crisis intervention systems to help people cope with the depression and despair that lead many to drug abuse, and we need to make it easier for authorities to compel people into treatment.
  • The uncontrolled use and abuse of opioids, including heroin, is destroying families and taking lives. Creating government-authorized injection sites for heroin addicts is the wrong approach in addressing this crisis.

Violent crime at 25-year high

  • Washingtonians were the victims of more violent crimes than at any point since the mid-1990s.
  • Murder: All-time high in 2020, up 80% from five years ago.
  • Rape: Up 40% from five years ago. In 2019, the most rapes on record since 1995.
  • Aggravated Assault: Up 50% from five years ago. In 2020, the most aggravated assaults since 1995.
  • In addition, elder abuse has skyrocketed, more than tripling since Gov. Inslee took office.
  • Washington also ranks 2nd worst in the country in property crime rate over the last five years.
  • Meanwhile, law enforcement officers per capita in Washington rank dead last in the country.

Democrat Action: Passed bill that will allow over 750 prisoners each year with violent/sex crimes in their history out of prison early. All told, the policy will reduce prison inmates by roughly 3,000 per year, or roughly 20% of the prison’s population. (SB 5121 in 2021)

Passed bills that make enforcement of laws by law enforcement much more difficult. Law enforcement contends these Democrat policies will lead to increased crime (HB 1310 and HB 1054 in 2021).

Jail Standards Task Force – $500,000 spent for task force to look at quality of services for jail inmates, including food quantity and quality, recreational services, and access to electronic media and commissary services, along with investigating data on square footage of living space per jail inmate. (Sec. 957, SSB 5092, 2021 operating budget)

Thoughts for consideration

Childcare crisis – Washington families cannot access or afford childcare

  • Lack of access to childcare takes money from your pockets – Lack of childcare access is estimated to have cost over $1 billion in state revenues in 2020 and over $16 billion in personal income as parents are unable to enter or reenter the workforce. Over half of parents have had to either reduce hours or quit their jobs entirely due to childcare accessibility. 
  • Washington ranks high in unaffordability – Washington state ranks in the top ten of states with the least affordable childcare. Some families would need to spend up to 150% of their income to afford childcare during work hours. Costs in King County can reach up to almost $19,000 per year, exceeding some college tuition.
  • Overregulation and uncertainty is impacting small business owners – With school closures, uncertain in-person learning plans, and new mandates for facilities regarding COVID-19, small business owners of childcare facilities are facing increased regulatory costs and diminished income causing temporary and permanent closures for 13% of providers. As more facilities close, the number of parents without access to childcare will grow.
  • Childcare access is an equity issue – Childcare deserts are disproportionality impacting rural communities, people of color, and migrant farm workers supporting Washington agriculture.
  • Childcare deserts are a statewide issue – There are over 500,000 Washington kids without a spot in a licensed childcare facility impacting all 39 counties in Washington.
  • Learn more: Study reveals depth of child care crisis of affordability, access in Washington state | Washington State Department of Commerce | August 25, 2020

Thoughts for consideration

  • Now, more than ever, the lack of accessible, affordable childcare is negatively impacting Washington families and communities.  We must tackle this problem head on with solutions that encourage provider growth and family trust.
  • Republicans are committed to addressing the government regulations that are negatively and unnecessarily burdening providers.  We have an opportunity to create a better environment for businesses to thrive and create affordable, accessible childcare options for our working families.
  • We need to determine the regional obstacles to accessing affordable childcare – the main cost drivers for providers in rural and urban settings.  We need specific, tailor-made solutions that will directly impact the costs associated with childcare.

Washingtonians pay a lot in taxes – and taxes recently enacted by Democrats will cost median family another $1,000 a year, at minimum

In 2018, Washingtonians had the 12th highest per capita state and local tax burden in the country ($5,960 vs. $5,150 national average).  Since then, the tax burden has only risen: 

  • 22 new tax increases during 2019-21 legislative sessions.
  • Raise $40 billion over 10 years. 
  • Three largest? 
  • Local school property tax levy hike (2019) – $8.7 billion. 
  • Payroll tax for long-term care (2019, set to take effect January 2022) – $8 billion. 
  • Capital Gains Income Tax (2021) – $5.7 billion. 

A Washingtonian with a median valued home and median household income will see their tax burden go up $967 a year from just the top two tax increases (local school property tax hike and payroll tax).

Democrat Action:  Voted “No” on proposal to exempt homeowners’ first $250,000 from state property tax (SB 5463 in 2021).

Thoughts for consideration

  • Washington state citizens continue to spend more of their hard-earned dollars on taxes than ever before.  Tax collections are at an all-time high, yet Democrats in the Olympia continue to increase and create new taxes.
  • The Democrat majority in Olympia continues to push proposals that will make driving, working, and living more expensive for Washingtonians.
  • While many small businesses and workers in our state are in financial crisis, state government is not.
  • Learn more from House Republicans: Tax increases passed by Democrats | 2019-22

Government greed? – State spending has nearly doubled since Gov. Inslee took office, far outpacing average worker wage growth 

  • State spending is up 90% from 2011-13 to 2021-23. 
  • Roughly four times faster than inflation. 
  • More than twice as fast as median private sector wage growth. 
  • Took first 120 years of state history to grow to $30 billion operating budget.  In last 10 years, it has grown to just shy of $60 billion ($59.5 billion).     

Democrat Action:  In 2021, enacted yet another budget with double digit growth.  Rejected proposal that would have grown spending by 6% and instead instituted tax reforms: such as exempting first $250,000 of home value from state property tax; eliminating B&O tax on manufacturing; and dedicating sales tax on motor vehicles to transportation (striking amendment to 2021 operating budget, SSB 5092). 

Thoughts for consideration

Government elitism and arrogance? – Repeatedly ignore will – and thwart rights of – voters

  • Long-term care (LTC) payroll tax – Takes over $1 billion annually from workers’ wages, starting January 2022.
  • Advisory Vote – 63% of voters opposed tax in 2019. 
  • Constitutional Amendment – 54% of voters rejected proposal regarding funding of plan. 
  • Plan has over $15 billion projected deficit. 
  • Democrat Action:  Rejected bill to put plan before voters in binding vote (SB 5234). 
  • Long-term care opt out – Thwart right of people to opt out of tax.
  • 2019:  Bill permits people with private LTC insurance to “opt out” and not pay tax (no time limit). 
  • 2020:  Limited time to opt out ends December 2022. 
  • Democrat Action 2021:  Limited opt out to Nov. 1, 2021 (prior to tax going into effect). 
  • Income tax – Thwart right of referendum.
  • Passed capital gains income tax, which legislators in public emails stated was designed to allow a court case that would permit a full-fledged income tax to be imposed statutorily.
  • Democrat Action: Included language to take away people’s constitutional right of referenda. 
  • 10 times in the past, voters have rejected proposals to impose an income tax. 
  • Affirmative action – Backdoor attempts to establish racial preferences.
  • In 2019, voters rejected a legislative proposal to establish racial preferences in state law. Voters in 31 legislative districts opposed the proposal.  
  • In 2021, several laws were enacted that focused on ‘equity’, i.e. achieving outcomes proportional to race. 
  • Carbon tax – Imposed, despite voters rejecting twice.
  • In 2016 and 2018, Washington voters rejected carbon tax initiatives.
  • In 2021, the Legislature passed a low-carbon fuel standard/high-cost fuel standard, both of which impose new costs on carbon that will raise money by primarily raising the cost of gas for consumers.
  • Fail to repeal single tax voters opposed in advisory vote.
  • Voters were asked their opinions on 16 tax increases enacted in 2019 and 2020.  In 13 of those instances, the will of the people was to repeal the tax.  Not once has the Legislature followed through and repealed one of those taxes.

Thoughts for consideration

  • Democrats in the state Legislature feel they know better than you how to make health care decisions, spend your money, plan for your future, and educate your kids.
  • With no counterbalance in the Legislature, the majority party is free to pursue an extreme, Seattle-based political agenda that is out-of-step with most Washington voters.
  • Learn more from House Republicans: Repealing the unpopular long-term care insurance program and regressive payroll tax

Government incompetence? Tort liability for bad state conduct has tripled in last decade

  • State risk premiums for tort liability were just over $100 million in 2011-13.  In newly adopted budget, costs are $300 million.
  • Highest costs are in children’s welfare, corrections, and transportation.
  • Sample of payouts in Fiscal Year 2020:
  • $7 million against Department of Children, Youth and Families for failing to investigate claims of abuse against a child.
  • $5 million against Department of Social and Health Services for harm suffered by developmentally disabled individual in state’s care due to negligent supervision and care.
  • $2 million against Department of Corrections for sexual assault of minor by inmate under state supervision.
  • $1.5 million against Washington State University for class action identity theft data breach.

Thoughts for consideration

  • A slow, inefficient, bloated state bureaucracy continues to result in failures where no leaders are held accountable.
  • Data breaches, early release of prisoners, cost overruns, and heartbreaking outcomes for children in our foster care system are unacceptable.
  • We are working to shed light on the governor’s failures, hold him and his state agencies accountable, and restore transparency to – and trust in – state government.
  • Learn more from House Republicans: Holding state government accountable

Transportation congestion, road conditions, fuel prices and taxes rank amongst worst in the nation

  • Congestion – Amongst the worst in the nation, with Puget Sound residents pre-pandemic spending on average over 135 hours a year in traffic due to congestion.
  • Road conditions – Ranked 44th worst in nation in terms of interstate road miles in poor condition.
  • Fuel prices – Washingtonians pay the 4th highest gas prices in the country, as of August 2021.
  • Taxes – Rank 8th highest in country.  If Legislative tax proposals from 2021 are enacted, we’d move up to 2nd.

Democrat Action:  Rejected proposal to direct motor vehicle sales tax to transportation (SB 5449).

Thoughts for consideration

  • High fuel prices have a larger impact on those who can least afford it.
  • We should prioritize the maintenance and preservation of the roads and highways we have.
  • Congestion in the Puget Sound will continue so long as the majority party prioritizes bike lanes, HOV lanes, and restrictive and unnecessary environmental rules over new infrastructure.
  • Learn more from House Republicans: Democrats pass partisan transportation package with fee and tax increases

One success story: College tuition below 2014-15 levels

In 2014-15, tuition and fees at University of Washington were $12,394.  In the 2021-22 school year, tuition and fees are $12,076.  A similar story is in place for the other four-year public institutions in our state.

This is a result of the historic tuition reform bill passed by the Legislature in 2015.  The legislation reduced tuition for all college students, including a 15% reduction at UW/WSU and 20% at other four-year colleges and universities.

In addition to reducing tuition, the legislation ensured that tuition growth would not outpace wage growth in the state, capping yearly tuition increases to the long-term average wage growth in the state.  This has translated to roughly a 2% yearly tuition increase each year, as opposed to the decade prior to the legislation where tuition routinely grew by several times that amount.