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WA Rep: State government seems unwilling to share in economic pain

The Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. (AP)

The budget hole in Olympia is not looking good, with projections that it’s down at least $8 billion. So what exactly are we doing to make up for this lost money? Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn) joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss.

“I’m still really optimistic that Washington state and Washingtonians are resilient and that we can bounce back from this as quickly as possible. … There are some structural advantages here in Washington, for instance our reliance on tech companies. It’s a lot easier to work from home when you are writing software code than if you’re mining for coal,” he said.

Some are calling for a capital gains tax, which Stokesbary believes would undermine the current economic situation further.

“The other thing that’s relevant for state tax purposes, and it’s something you alluded to minutes ago, is the fact that Washington doesn’t have an income tax or capital gains income tax,” Stokesbary said. “Pretty much every study shows that tax collections for income based taxes are subject to a lot more variants in economically turbulent times than taxes on sales or taxes on property.”

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“For instance, you see Oregon and California, both of which have a heavy reliance on income tax, you see their economic situations being a lot worse … so it’s kind of strange that there would be a rallying cry to impose an income tax and capital gains tax right now, when it’s the fact that our lack of that is keeping the problem from being so much worse,” he added.

Sacrifice at the state government level

Above all, Rep. Stokesbary doesn’t believe the government is sharing the sacrifice that many have had to endure as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns.

“One of the biggest problems I have personally is that today state government doesn’t seem willing to share in any of the pain that people in the private sector and Washington families have been forced to deal with. There hasn’t been a willingness by the governor or the majority party to call a special session and start taking hard votes that are going to be ultimately necessary,” he said.

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“There hasn’t been a desire by the governor to declare a significant revenue shortfall, which would allow him to re-negotiate those 3% raises that would apply to all employees, not just the exempt employees, like the agency directors and senior managers. Nothing large or small seems to be being done by state government to share in the pain that the rest of Washington is feeling right now. And I think that’s wrong.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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