LATEST BLOGS

Governor’s climate agenda bills advance in the Legislature. State supreme court to decide on whether the Ecology Department has authority to impose harsher emission rules.

Lawmakers in Olympia are continuing their rounds of committee hearings this week, while budget writers work behind the scenes on state spending and tax plans for the 2019-21 biennium. The revenue forecast released Wednesday shows legislators have $50.5 billion to work with— 9.6 % more money than current spending levels of about $46.1 billion.  Records show Washington residents now pay the highest tax burden ever.

The Governor and Democrats in the Lgislature have called for tax increases on top of these higher revenues, including a $3.7 billion capital gains income tax and hikes in business taxes, boosting spending to nearly $55.0 billion if the governor’s plan is enacted.

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In catering to unions, lawmakers don’t see what their high tax burden does to families
By LIV FINNE  | 
Mar 22, 2019

I have been getting a lot of responses to my published research about the WEA union’s self-serving effort to raise property taxes again, even after lawmakers just raised the state property tax an average 17%, and gave schools another $4 billion.  A heartfelt comment I got from a woman in Wenatchee is typical.  She explains how the elderly living on fixed incomes and young families trying to buy their first house are hurt by the ever-increasing property tax burden.  Now many school districts get more money than private schools, yet some lawmakers and the unions tell us they want to raise property taxes again.

Just yesterday I spoke at a hearing on SSB 5313, a bill the union wants that would increase property taxes again.  Here’s what I said on the bill, and below is the comment I got from Wenatchee.

           Hello Liv,

Thank you for the very informative article in the March 21 issue of The Wenatchee World entitled “WSD [Wenatchee  School District] has $14,900 per student.” 

When will the teacher’s union decide they have enough!!!  We, and our friends, are senior citizens trying to live on Social Security and any money we have been able to save up over the years.  Unfortunately most of us have enough that we do not qualify for any low income deduction.  But on the other hand, we don’t get any big raises on Social Security either.  Property tax is a cash out deduction.  For many, it represents one month’s or more worth of SS income for the people. 

We feel there is no end in sight on what the teacher’s union will try to “grab” from our income and savings.  But my question is – what can we – as an older couple – do about this issue?  People either can’t afford to purchase a home or, in the case of us older people, the increased cost of the property tax is making us rethink what change in living arrangements might need to be made.

I was quite appalled when I read that all the new monies the district got went basically to increase salaries of the teachers, administrators, etc.  We really did not think that was what the total use of the new funding was for.  Now, as near as I can determine, it sounds like they can’t continue to fund the salary increases they so generously gave.

As to my question – other than voting our two votes No on any additional school bonds, what can be done?  Thank you for any attention given to this email.

This is a side of education spending most lawmakers don’t see.  They hear only from lobbyists and unions, who of course only push for more dollars.  They don’t hear from ordinary people who are hurt when the state takes more money from them; who must choose between paying for daily needs or paying taxes.  At nearly $15,000 per student, school officials should be able to serve children, not give away public budgets in bigger salaries to their friends.  State and local officials like to spend, obviously, but they should open their minds, and their hearts, to what their high tax burden is doing to the elderly and working families in their communities.

 

 

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House adopts remote testimony resolution
By JASON MERCIER  | 
Mar 21, 2019

Today is a good day for open government and those wanting to participate in the legislative process. The House adopted on a voice vote (one faint no vote) HR 4621: Requesting information on options and recommendations for a pilot remote testimony program. This exciting news follows the lead of the Senate that made remote testimony a permanent option for its public hearings earlier this year. Here is the short floor debate today on HR 4621 . . . 

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