$59 billion bill will come down on middle class, senator says

   OLYMPIA — A $59 billion state budget passed by majority Senate Democrats Thursday, April 1, is based on big tax increases and missed opportunities, says 42nd District Sen. Doug Ericksen.

  Rather than offer struggling Washington families relief from taxes as the state recovers from the year-long coronavirus economic shutdown, the Senate Democrats’ plan would force big increases in the price of gasoline and diesel fuel. The budget also assumes passage of a new income tax on capital gains that could quickly be broadened to the middle class if it survives legal challenges, the Ferndale Republican believes.

  “It’s about big tax increases,” Ericksen said. “It’s about big missed opportunities in Washington state where we could have actually helped middle-class working families in Washington state with honest-to-goodness tax relief.”

  The budget measure, Senate Bill 5092, passed the Senate by a 27-22 vote, with all members of the Senate Republican Caucus voting in opposition. The bill now goes to the House for further consideration.

  Last month a new projection of tax collections gave lawmakers an additional $3.3 billion. Yet Senate Democrats chose not to scale back their plans for new taxes, but rather increased their plans for new spending, he said. The budget exceeds anticipated tax collections by about $3 billion.

  Ericksen says state spending has ballooned in recent years, and that the Senate Democrats’ latest budget continues the trend.

  “It spends a lot,” he said. “If you spend 50 percent more in five years, you’re going to spend for things people like. I get that. But you also have to pay the bill. And the people paying the bill right now are the working middle-class families who are going to see big tax increases based upon this budget. They’re going to see jobs disappearing. And if you think those high-income earners are going to sit around Washington state just for the opportunity to send in their capital gains tax to the government of Washington, I think you’ve got another thing coming.”