Schoesler: November revenue forecast shows B&O tax hike isn’t needed

Sen. Mark Schoesler

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, says the latest state revenue forecast shows that the Legislature should roll back the huge business-and-occupation tax increase that it imposed on certain services earlier this year.

The fourth-quarter revenue forecast, released today, shows an increase of $299 million over the third-quarter forecast from September. Combined with the June and September forecasts, revenues for the 2019-21 biennium are now projected to be $850 million higher than what was forecasted when the Legislature adjourned in April. The 20 percent B&O tax increase imposed by the Legislature’s majority party on providers of professional services is expected to raise $380 million in the current biennium.

“We said all along that tax hikes weren’t necessary, but the governor and his allies in the majority apparently felt our Main Street employers were undertaxed, and they went ahead with this huge increase,” said Schoesler, who is a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “I think the Legislature needs to acknowledge that there is already plenty of revenue coming in, and realize it’s time to listen to the taxpayers and rescind the B&O tax hike.”

The November forecast also shows a 2019-21 revenue projection of $51.7 billion. The ending-fund reserves for the current biennium total $3.5 billion, including $2.2 billion in the constitutionally protected rainy-day fund and $1.3 billion in unrestricted reserves.

“The state has plenty of money in reserve now. We can afford to give some of that extra money back to the taxpayers while still keeping a healthy budget reserve in case of an economic downturn in the future,” added Schoesler.