fair & Adequate revenue

Adopt fair revenue policies to adequately fund services and functions critical to the well-being of the people of our state.

Issue Team Chair: Nora Leech – nleech [at] lwvwa.org – (206) 622-8961
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Right Now In Fair & Adequate Revenue 

The quarterly revenue forecast for March was released on March 20. The report cites slight increases in revenue over last quarter’s projections primarily coming from sales and property taxes. The revenue amounts to $256 million more than was projected for the current 2017-2019 biennium, $545 million in 2019-21. Revenue forecast highlights include: 

  • growth is slowing;
  • income from wages is lower than expected;
  • income from non wage sources such as capital gains is higher;
  • inflation is higher.

This increase of dollars to the General fund will fall short of covering the costs mandated by law to fund currently existing legal obligations such as public education.

New Budget Bills the League is Watching

HB 1109 / SB 5153 Operating budgets 2019-21 Making biennium appropriations. HB 1109 will be released March 25 asking for public comment and tentatively voted on March 27. This budget must be balanced and include plans for adequate revenues to pay for the current obligations and new costs contained in the proposed budget. SB 5153 will be released March 29, and will present the Senate's proposed budget and the plan for revenues for said proposal.

The differences between the two bills must be reconciled to present to the Governor. This will take some time and a lot of wrangling. Although the Senate and House are controlled by Democrats, there are a lot of ideas and differences within parties as to how to spend money and how to pay for new expenditures.

    Bills the League Supports
    • HB 1703 Increasing tax exemption transparency and accountability. The Department of Revenue report on all tax exemptions and their fiscal impact would be updated every 2 years instead of 4 years. Any tax exemption that has NO sunset and reduces revenues by over $50,000/year or $100,000/biennium would appear in the budget documents and have to be proactively reauthorized as part of the budget or it would sunset. If the Legislature has taken no action on reviewing and clarifying or adding a sunset on a tax exemption which the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee and Citizens Commission on Tax Preferences have recommended to be ended or clarified, and the tax exemption reduces revenues by over $50,000/year or $100,000/biennium, then the exemption would appear in the budget documents and require re-adoption in the budget or it would sunset.
    • 2SHB 2117 / SB 5973 Providing a pathway to modernize and rebalance the Washington state tax structure so that it is equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent for the people of Washington state.
    Bills the League is Watching
    • HB 1219 Providing cities and counties authority to use real estate excise taxes to support affordable housing and homelessness projects. Passed the House, 74-24.
    • SB 5961 Improving the equity and sustainability of Washington's tax structure.

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