In a 2019 op-ed published in this newspaper, we wrote, “We need more lawmakers committed to being fiscally responsible, prioritizing the dollars you’ve provided, and keeping an eye on the future. After all, we know the good economic times won’t last forever.”
Regrettably, they didn’t.
But while the pandemic has presented enormous challenges for Washington families and businesses, you might be surprised to learn our state is not in fiscal crisis. Since June 2020, tax collections have rebounded far more quickly than initially expected and our budget deficit has largely been erased.
Still, some argue we need new and higher taxes to refill the state’s coffers. They’re hoping the Legislature will pass a new income tax on capital gains, a statewide soda tax, an increase in the state gas tax, and more. All to fund a massive increase in new spending.
As the pandemic continues to wage war on our families and communities, the last thing the Legislature should be doing is advancing yet another tax-and-spend budget.
A better approach would be adopting the 2021-23 House Republican operating budget proposal, which we unveiled earlier this month. Our plan would fund all of our state’s needs and priorities without imposing new taxes or cutting vital services.
We would fund the Working Families Tax Credit for the first time since it was enacted 12 years ago, provide a sales tax exemption for basic necessities like prepared food and diapers, and help our low-income families defray the costs of remote learning.
We would follow the science and incentivize schools to reopen by providing the resources to do so, while also providing funding to address the learning loss our students have experienced as a result of the pandemic.
We would help our small-business owners by providing a number of tax reductions and deferrals that would assist in keeping them solvent as the pandemic continues. Our small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities. It is vital we do everything we can to support them and ensure they can keep their doors open well into the future.
We would take care of our most vulnerable by making significant investments in community-based mental health treatment, helping cities and counties combat homelessness, and providing more resources to better care for individuals with disabilities.
Finally, we would reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, fix inefficiencies in government, eliminate programs that aren’t working, and replace bad policies with better ones.
Our budget is yet another example of how House Republicans are offering real solutions to the problems Washingtonians are facing. We are standing up for families while working to strengthen our communities, hold government accountable, and safely get people back to work, school and a more normal life.
Two years from now, we hope we aren’t writing another op-ed in opposition to the push for new and higher taxes. Instead, we invite the governor and majority party to work with us to craft a budget that puts Washingtonians first and sets our state up for long-term success.
Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver, and Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver, represent the 18th Legislative District.