Under the guise of school funding, Senate Democrats have proposed a scheme to circumvent legal requirements to deposit extraordinary revenue in the state’s Rainy Day Fund and provide a small measure of property tax relief. As a result of the McCleary education funding plan adopted in 2017, many around the state have experienced a property tax spike in 2018. Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, took the majority to task for their arguably illegal gimmick and unwillingness to provide relief for taxpayers with Senate Bill 6614.
“I’ve served in the Legislature for quite a while. I’ve seen a lot of tricks, but this one may be one of the most egregious,” said Bailey. “Hardworking taxpayers have sent us more of their money than we anticipated and the majority wants to spend all of it and ignore the will of the voters who demanded we plan responsibly for the future.”
Voters overwhelmingly approved Senate Joint Resolution 8206 in 2011, which requires extraordinary revenue growth be deposited in the Budget Stabilization Account during periods of strong economic growth. Use of those funds requires a 60 percent vote.
“The majority Democrats are arguing that since the extra money isn’t deposited yet, they can take the funds and avoid the higher vote threshold,” said Bailey. “That like robbing the armored car before it gets to the bank and saying no harm, no foul. To add insult to injury, they are ignoring the real hurt that property owners are experiencing now and only giving them back a small portion of the taxes they raised. It is incredibly unfair and irresponsible to go down this path. Our state treasurer has warned that the actions by the Senate Democrats will jeopardize our credit rating and set a dangerous precedent – it’s disingenuous.”
The state is projected to take in at least $2 billion more than expected when a two-year budget was adopted in 2017, and Senate Republicans have been arguing that the extraordinary revenue should be used to provide tax relief this year.