Kristiansen: Legislature does more harm this year than good for citizens
As the Legislature entered its final day of the special session, Rep. Dan Kristiansen reflected over the past 90 days lawmakers have been in Olympia and characterized this year’s legislative session as “a massive train wreck engineered by majority Democrats with a lot of citizens unwillingly aboard.”
“It’s been very disappointing,” said Kristiansen, R-Snohomish. “My Republican colleagues and I met with the governor a month before the session began in January and brought her a jobs package, which ultimately would have put many people back to work in the private sector by now.
Our “Made in Washington” jobs legislation would have significantly reduced unemployment and the need for public assistance. Unfortunately, those ideas were completely ignored as the governor and majority party went directly for tax increases.
“With some of the highest unemployment rates in the state in nearly two decades, this legislative session should have been about jobs and what we could do to get people working again. Instead, Washington has higher unemployment now than it did when the Legislature convened in January and, unfortunately, we can expect a lot more people out of work when the new tax hikes take effect,” he said.
To cover a $2.8 billion budget shortfall, majority Democrats in the House approved legislation, 52-44, that will increase taxes by nearly $2.5 billion over the next three years. Kristiansen voted no. The Senate followed suit, approving Senate Bill 6143 by a vote of 25-21. All Republicans in both the House and Senate voted against the tax hikes and some Democrats also voted no.
“All of these tax increases will be detrimental to individuals and our state’s economy. Even the governor said she could solve this budget problem by making changes internally without a tax increase. So why couldn’t House and Senate Democrat leaders restructure the budget and prioritize spending for only the most essential services of education, public safety and the most vulnerable? Instead, they’re sticking it to taxpayers at a time when our state is experiencing the worst recession in years,” noted Kristiansen.
Kristiansen said employers, blue-collar workers and the middle class will be hit the hardest with tax increases, which include raising business and occupation taxes on services, adding sales tax to candy and gum, and increasing taxes on soda, bottled water, cigarettes and beer.
“The 39th District has more people collecting unemployment benefits than any other legislative district. Now the state is going to take more from families who are already living with less and have had to cut their own budgets,” said Kristiansen. “The tax package picks winners and losers. Those who can afford to drink the high-end microbrewery beers won’t have to pay, but those who drink regular beer will be paying much more. That’s just one of many examples of how this tax legislation will affect the middle class.”
Monday, the House of Representatives approved a $30.5 billion supplemental operating budget which decreases spending by less than 1 percent from last year’s budget. Senate Bill 6444 passed the House by a vote of 54-43. It later was approved in the Senate, 25-21. Again, Kristiansen voted no.
“It’s unbelievable that while families are cutting back, there’s actually new spending in this budget. The Legislature didn’t tighten its belt. Instead, it continues the same old tax-and-spend policies that got us into this mess in the first place,” added Kristiansen. “This budget does nothing to help employers create jobs. Instead, it adds more mandates and finds more ways to tax employers. So that means we may see more businesses close and move out of the state, and fewer jobs in Washington. We’re not going to be able to crawl our way, tax our way or spend our way out of this recession. The state needs to take a lesson from its citizens who are having to live within their means. Until we do that, we’re going to continue to see huge budget deficits long into the future.
“It’s very unfortunate, but I believe our state would have been better off if the Legislature didn’t convene this year. As a result, every citizen is going to be feeling the pain and this difficult recession has now been prolonged,” concluded Kristiansen.