‘The voters want tax increases to be a last resort not the first option when it comes to dealing with years of overspending,’ says Kretz
Washington state taxpayers had their voices silenced today as majority Democrats in the state House of Representatives approved legislation repealing voter-approved Initiative 960, the Taxpayers Protection Act.
Senate Bill 6130, which passed the House after lengthy debate Wednesday night, eliminates the two-thirds vote requirement by the Legislature for tax increases.
Representatives from the 7th Legislative District spoke out and voted against the bill.
“The voters of this state have said time and time again that the threshold for raising taxes should be a high one,” said Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda. “I’m not sure if it’s arrogance or incompetence that leads some in Olympia to so casually cast aside taxpayer protections, but regardless, employers, families and our local economies will suffer because of it. The voters want tax increases to be a last resort not the first option when it comes to dealing with years of overspending.”
“The public’s response to this issue has been overwhelming,” said Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy. “People back in district have been e-mailing and calling nonstop. The message we’re hearing from them is simple: the public wants more protections from tax increases, not less. They want more transparency in government, not less. We joined with our House Republican colleagues to try and stop this effort, but in the end, the will of the majority party prevailed over the will of the people.”
Earlier in the week, House Republicans used procedural motions and parliamentary rules in an effort to stop Senate Bill 6130 from being introduced in the House and referred to a committee. However, House Democrats successfully referred the bill to a public hearing in the House Finance Committee that took place Saturday morning.
The committee hearing was packed with state employee unions and special interest groups supporting the death of I-960 and higher taxes, while taxpayers and employers testified against the measure.
Kretz said this week’s actions in the Legislature is just the first round of a fight that will last the rest of session.
“Now that they’ve removed the two-thirds requirement to raise taxes, they can ramrod employers and families with a series of tax and fee increases at will,” Kretz said. “Today’s vote to make it easier to raise taxes is the wrong direction for our state. In my area, unemployment is running at about 15 percent, with the average citizen earning $22,000 per year. Most of the people in my district would give you the shirt off their backs, if you asked for it. And, from what I have seen, the people with the least are willing to give the most when they see a friend, neighbor or even a stranger in need. But, what I’m hearing from home is that folks are not willing to continue to fund a black hole of a budget in Olympia. They feel it is irresponsible. What I am hearing from constituents, those with the least, is they just do not have any more to give to government. That’s why I cannot support repealing the Taxpayer Protection Act and making it easier to increase taxes and fees on my neighbors who are struggling right now.”
Kretz added that charity begins with neighbors helping neighbors, not government grabbing what’s left in our wallets, if anything, and giving our earnings to the people it chooses are the neediest.
Short expressed concern that with the counties in her district leading the state in high unemployment rates, tax increases will hinder job creation and put more people on state services.
“We need to be taking actions that will help our employers create jobs, not placing further barriers to economic expansion,” Short said. “Tax increases on employers will stifle job creation and make other businesses think twice before expanding operations or relocating to Washington.
“Our families are stretched to the max, financially,” continued Short. “They’ve moved beyond ‘belt tightening’ and have had to get creative in finding ways to save money and cut expenses. State government, it seems, is either unable to think outside the box in the same way or unwilling to offend the many special interests clamoring for more taxes.”
The 60-day 2010 session is scheduled to end March 11.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with Rep. Kretz, contact Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252
For more information, or to schedule an interview with Rep. Short, contact: Brendon Wold, Senior Information Officer, (360) 786-7698.