2024 legislative session •

Dear Friend:

Week four of the legislative session is underway. We are approaching our first major deadline on Wednesday: House of origin policy committee cutoff. There will again be several important public hearings in House committees this week. You can learn more in The Week Ahead.

Fix the affordability crisis

Like the crime statistics I shared last week, our state’s cost of living rankings also paint a troubling picture. Washington has the third highest gas prices in the nation, is the fourth most expensive state to buy a home, and has the fourth highest combined sales tax rate. And a recent headline read: Washington 4th most expensive state to buy groceries.

You can draw a line from these rankings to the actions of the Democrats in the Legislature. Our state is facing an affordability crisis and it’s critical state lawmakers act this legislative session to provide relief to Washingtonians.

Repealing the regressive carbon tax

So, what can be done? First, the Legislature should pass Initiative 2117. The initiative would repeal the state’s controversial carbon tax, which has caused state gas and energy prices to increase and hurt families, farmers and small businesses.

House Republicans opposed this policy in 2021, warning it would cause financial hardships. Those burdens are being felt today. As I said in a statement, this policy amounts to a highly regressive tax on working families and will have a negligible impact on global carbon emissions. I also discussed the carbon tax in this video with Rep. Jim Walsh.

Unfortunately, House Democrats have shown no interest in giving this initiative — or any of the six certified initiatives that are now before the Legislature — a public hearing. They also prioritized the passage of legislation last week that would ban natural gas in new residential and commercial buildings. This policy would increase the costs of housing, goods and services in our state — while our state is facing an affordability crisis. House Republicans opposed this bill and believe families and businesses deserve affordable, reliable energy options.

Other House Republican solutions to reduce your cost of living

In addition to repealing the carbon tax, other House Republican solutions to reduce your costs of living include:

Another option on the table, House Bill 1000, would expand the Working Families Tax Credit. I sponsored this measure last year.

The Legislature cannot, of course, do all of these things. But state lawmakers need to do something. House Republicans have once again provided viable options.

I also want to acknowledge that housing and child care problems are contributing to our state’s affordability crisis. I will discuss these issues in future email updates.

New tax increases and a missed opportunity

As family budgets face pressures, the state operating budget has more than doubled since I entered office in 2015. Since 2018, when Democrats took control of the Legislature, state spending has increased by 57%. Along the way, the majority party has passed several new tax increases and other legislation that have made life more expensive in Washington. 

It’s not just about what Democrats have done to taxpayers, but what they failed to do just two years ago. In the 2022 legislative session, the state had a historic $15 billion budget surplus and state lawmakers had a unique opportunity to provide real tax relief to working families. The majority party failed to deliver.   

That year, when I was ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, we introduced a budget framework that would have reduced the state sales tax by a full percentage point, repealed the long-term care payroll tax, and provided police departments with funding for officer retention and recruitment bonuses. Imagine if this had been enacted and the positive results today for our state’s affordability and public safety.

Warmly,

Rep. Drew Stokesbary 
House Republican Leader
drew.stokesbary@leg.wa.gov