Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Gov. Inslee recently announced a plan to raise taxes. The governor wants to:
- Place the tax back on bottled water. I believe this ignores the will of the voters. In 2010, the people passed I-1107, which repealed the sales tax on bottled water.
- Impose a sales tax on janitorial services. Another cost driver on our small employers.
- Increase the business tax on prescription drugs. This could drive up the costs of prescription drugs, harming those who use prescriptions the most – the elderly and the sick, who are also the least likely to afford an increase.
- Impose a tax on recycled fuel used on-site in manufacturing. This tax exemption incentivizes recycling of fuel and the most efficient use, namely re-use at the same plant.
- Increase the sales tax for trade-in vehicles valued over $10,000. A family purchasing a $35,000 vehicle, and trading in a $15,000 vehicle, would see an increase on the sales tax paid of $450.
- Impose a tax on interstate transportation. We run the risk of starting a mini-trade war with retaliatory taxing from adjacent states and it could drive up prices for consumers.
- Impose a sales tax on nonresidents. This will hurt job creation in border counties.
The governor's proposed tax increases amount to approximately $400 million. I will oppose these tax increases. We do not face a budget shortfall, and I am confident that we can fund our state's operating needs within existing revenues.
In his State of the State address, the governor said he supported raising the state minimum wage “in the range of $1.50 to $2.50 an hour.” Colleagues in the House recently introduced House Bill 2672, which would increase the minimum wage rate to $12 per hour over the course of three years.
I am concerned that a minimum wage increase would hurt people looking for work, poor families and small businesses. It would reduce employment opportunities for low-skilled workers and teenagers. We already have one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the nation. House Bill 2672 was passed by the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee with a 5-4 vote and is now in the House Appropriations Committee. If this comes to the floor, I plan to oppose it.
That said, I will continue to work on legislation that makes it easier for employers to create jobs and for communities to provide for those in need. I will write more about some of these bills in future updates.
I continue to work on legislation to make our transportation system less costly and more efficient. One bill I have introduced is House Bill 2123. This bill simply includes “congestion relief” and “improved freight mobility” within existing transportation system policy goals. These are the goals by which we review system performance. It's remarkable to me that congestion relief and improved freight mobility are not already mentioned among our policy goals. There's mention of “energy conservation,” “healthy communities” and “environmental protection.” The existing goal of mobility is defined as the “predictable movement of goods and people,” but people want congestion relief, not just congestion predictability. Adding congestion relief and improved freight mobility to our state's transportation goals would benefit commuters, ports, agriculture, aerospace, large and small businesses and the trucking industry.
We had many visitors from the district again last week. Rep. Dawn Morrell and I had the opportunity to meet with members of the Puyallup Senior Center during their Capitol Tour (see the photo above). Let me know if you are planning a visit to Olympia anytime soon. It would be good to see you.
For more on legislation I am working on you can watch my latest video update here: Rep. Zeiger's Feb. 3 legislative update.
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