Last year, legislative Democrats approved $26 billion in new taxes over the next decade. One the proposals in that package included an increase in the regressive business and occupation (B&O) tax on everything from health-care providers to housing services. Despite the state Department of Revenue indicating the bill violates four of five sound principles of taxation and whether the estimated revenues could be collected, Democrats passed a similar ‘fix’ in the third week of the 2020 session, shutting down amendments to ease tax burdens on small businesses. The original bill left a $200-million hole in the account that funds higher education.
Voters spoke clearly in last year’s General Election, rejecting a majority of the tax increases in advisory votes, but this week’s second bite of the apple has spurred Senate Republicans to focus their efforts on relentless tax increases by forming the Tax Watchdog Committee.
Members of the committee include:
- Sen. Randi Becker, R-Olympia;
- Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn;
- Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia; and
- Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County
“This B&O tax bill is our first alert,” said Fortunato. “Reimbursement rates for nursing homes haven’t kept up and they are struggling to stay open and looking for state assistance. So, what’s the solution to this problem? The majority is raising taxes on those same facilities. It’s shortsighted and emblematic of the problems with how the majority budgets. They create a problem, raise taxes to ‘fix it’ and leave taxpayers holding the bag.”