Opinion: It might not qualify as ‘Black Friday,’’ but it certainly was a dark day for Washington taxpayers

ClarkCountyToday.com, Editor Ken Vance

ClarkCountyToday.com Editor Ken Vance shares his latest disappointment in the actions of lawmakers in Olympia

In the history of our world’s economy, there have been several “black’’ days that I’m sure most of you are quite familiar with. What happened last Friday in Olympia likely won’t join the short list I’m about to share with you, but nonetheless, it qualifies as more bad news for taxpayers in Clark County and around the state of Washington.

With credit to Wikipedia for the following history lesson, the king of all of the “black’’ days I referred to was “Black Monday’’ and “Black Tuesday,’’ October 28 and 29, 1929. Those days followed what is referred to as “Black Thursday’’ — Oct. 24, 1929 — which started the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

Again, our world economy suffered a “Black Monday’’ on Oct., 19, 1987 when stock markets around the world crashed. The crash began in Hong Kong, spread west in Europe and once it hit the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 508 points, or 22.61 percent.

A lesser “black’’ day occurred on Fri., Oct. 13, 1989. That crash led to a drop of 190.58 points (6.91 percent) in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

So, by comparison, the actions of some of our state lawmakers on Friday will seem somewhat benign. But, if you don’t already know about it, I’m sure you’ll be seeing “red’’ soon enough.

Rep. Brandon Vick
Rep. Brandon Vick

On Friday, the Washington State House Finance Committee voted 9-4 to increase taxes on residents of the state by more than $4 billion over the next four years. The vote was split by party affiliation, with the nine Democrats voting in favor and the four Republicans (including Brandon Vick, 18th District) voting against.

According to a news release from the Washington State House Republicans, the new taxes approved by the committee include:

  • A capital gains income tax
  • A Business and Occupation tax surcharge on services
  • A graduated real estate excise tax
  • A change to the nonresident sales tax exemption, turning it into an annual remittance program

Vick and fellow 18th District Rep. Larry Hoff (R-Vancouver), issued a joint statement Friday afternoon.

Rep. Larry Hoff
Rep. Larry Hoff

“Despite record revenues, a $3 billion surplus, and voters rejecting tax increases time and time again at the ballot box, the majority party continues to show blatant disregard for anything resembling fiscal sanity. If these new taxes are signed into law, along with the House majority’s proposed spending plan, we will not only have ignored voters’ wishes, but we will also have increased spending by 70 percent since 2013.

“Here locally, residents in the 18th District and across Clark County will be hurt if the state’s nonresident sales tax exemption is turned into an annual remittance program. Hindering cross-border competition will result in businesses closing, jobs being lost, and more families struggling to make ends meet.

“We don’t believe taking money out of taxpayers’ wallets and making our state less competitive is going to improve the prospects of Washingtonians in Clark County or anywhere else. Our state’s policy goals can be achieved within existing revenues without making cuts to necessary programs. We call on the majority party to revise its approach to budgeting and fund our shared priorities with the record revenues we currently have.”

Rep. Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver, 17th District), always an opponent of tax increases, went to Facebook to express her disgust.

The House Democrats have just passed a wave of new taxes in the Finance Committee this morning — 9.9% Capital Gains Income Tax, a B&O Tax increase on service businesses in particular,’’ Kraft wrote.

“The people of WA have said no to a state income tax 10 times!,’’ Kraft wrote. “The IRS and other states that have a Capital Gains Tax have all said a Capital Gains Tax IS an income tax. This is the first step toward a state income tax. I will continue to oppose new taxes — this is your money and it should remain in your hands!’’

Kraft also posted this video on Facebook:

Video courtesy Vicki Kraft’s Facebook Page

As Vick and Hoff pointed out in their statement, the tax increases have yet to be signed into law. But, considering the split in the vote on the House Finance Committee and the fact that the Democrats control both houses of the Washington State Legislature and that Gov. Jay Inslee has never met a tax he didn’t like, is there much of a life preserver to grab onto at this point?

The 2019 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn Sun., April 28. You can bet I’m going to pay attention to which lawmakers support these tax increases.

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