A Fact based opinion by the Political Correspondent
The Governor just made his budget for 2024 public. What does that mean for you? First, you will want a quick overview of the budget process that the Legislature goes through each year.
· There are 3 Operating Budget documents that get introduced every year. The Governor’s comes out first. Then a budget from one chamber (House or Senate) will be introduced and finally the second chamber’s budget will become part of the mix.
· All three budgets will be heard in the Ways and Means Committee in the Senate and the Budget Committee in the House. Advocates from dozens, if not hundreds, of groups and agencies will weigh in on these three budgets, usually suggesting that they need much more money than they have been allocated.
· There will be negotiations between the House, Senate, and governor’s office to come up with a document that the majority of all three can accept.
· Finally, usually in the very last minutes of the Legislative Session, the agreed upon budget will be passed.
The state has much more money than was expected last year. If you think about it, that makes perfect sense. The extra dollars it costs you to fill up your gas tank is adding billions to the state coffers. Additionally, since you are paying much more of your money for because of inflation, the sales tax money that the state receives is also much higher. So while you get poorer, the state gets richer.
Here is a fun fact for you. It took 120 years of state history for the budget to grow to a $31 billion budget – when the governor took office. With the introduction of this budget, state spending will have grown to almost $72 B. Did your income grow like this over the past 10 years? Probably not.
If the state is this much richer, will there be any proposal from the Democrats to provide you with some tax relief? Why no. There is not one hint of reducing property taxes. Or gas taxes. Or any other kind of taxes. In fact, speaking of gas taxes, the governor’s budget has increased spending because of the Cap and Tax program that was passed two years ago – the CCA. That means $3 billion taken from your wallet allows the government to spend even more. Same with the Capital Gains Tax. Hmmm. Have you signed those initiatives yet?
GOP PROPOSALS CUT TAXES:
The Republicans, on the other hand, have been introducing tax decreases for years. How about exempting the first $250,000 from the value of your home when it comes to property tax. Another Republican effort is to reduce or even do away with the gas tax to offset the increase from the CCA gas tax. How about allowing people to opt out of the Long-Term Care Tax? The list of tax decreases proposed by Republicans is quite long. Wouldn’t it be great to have a Republican legislature and governor to pass some of those bills?
How will the state spend your money? The list of items your tax dollars will fund is hundreds of pages long. As one very small example, KOMO news reports that the governor wants another $100 million to clean up homeless encampments. As usual, there is no effort to fix the underlying problem, but instead, just a great deal of money to clean up the mess. That mentality is repeated over and over each year. It needs to end.
It’s time to start watching the state legislature closely. If you value your way of life, you need to get involved. Now is the time.