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House GOP releases its plan for state budget
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House GOP releases its plan for state budget

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Washington House Republicans released their 2021-23 operating budget framework Tuesday, saying it is not necessary for state lawmakers to raise taxes or cut any vital services.

At a news conference. ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Drew Stokesbar said GOP legislators are crafting their proposed two-year operating budget this legislative session.

The GOP plan is at odds with the Democrats, who are talking about implementing a capital gains tax and a “billionaire” tax.

The controversial capital gains tax proposal, requested by Gov. Jay Inslee, would create a 9% tax on annual investment earnings of more than $25,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a married couple. It has been proposed before but has never made it through both chambers of the Legislature.

The wealth tax would apply a 1% tax on intangible wealth above $1 billion. Intangible wealth includes cash, stocks, bonds and contracts.

The GOP plan “demonstrates that it is indeed possible to fund the state’s existing needs and emergency priorities without raising taxes or cutting vital services,” said Stokesbary, R-Auburn. “This isn’t a budget that will grow government or serve special interests, it’s a proposal that will help people – working families, growing students, vulnerable people, small businesses, and all Washingtonians.”

Stokesbary began developing the proposal last summer when Republicans were asking and preparing for a special session that was never called by Governor Jay Inslee.

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Rep. Kelly Chambers, assistant ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee and ranking member on the House College and Workforce Development Committee, believes the GOP caucus budget framework prioritizes vulnerable populations.

“We offer hope and more resources for vulnerable Washingtonians, including those who are struggling with mental health issues and homelessness,” said Chambers, R-Puyallup. “We also help students who have fallen behind academically and assist low-income families with the costs of remote learning.”

Rep. Chris Corry, assistant ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee and assistant floor leader, says the proposal is designed to help communities that are struggling as result of extended shutdown orders.

“This proposal offers a hand to families in need, including child care options and sales tax exemptions. It also does not raise taxes on anyone or anything,” said Corry, R-Yakima. “We also invest more in public health without raising taxes on health care plans like the governor has proposed.”

Rep. Drew MacEwen, assistant ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee and assistant floor leader, highlights that the plan assists small businesses in need of relief and provides certainty for the future.

“Small businesses should not be punished for the state’s failure to prevent unemployment insurance fraud. It’s fundamentally unfair,” said MacEwen, R-Union. “Our plan replenishes the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund and offers temporary B&O tax relief for businesses hit hardest by the pandemic.”

Stokesbary says the proposal reveals Washington House Republicans’ priorities, including funding a working families tax credit.

“This budget treats working families as a priority, not a talking point,” said Stokesbary, who also sits on the House Finance Committee. “By funding the working families tax credit, reducing sales taxes, reopening schools, addressing the homelessness crisis, and improving our environment, Republicans have shown what our values are.”

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