Senate Republican leader says new revenue numbers should have lawmakers looking at tax relief, not tax hikes

OLYMPIA… The first state revenue forecast for 2018 predicts state revenue collections will come in $1.3 billion higher than previously forecast for the next two budget cycles.

Combined with $1.05 billion in added revenue growth since the end of the 2017 legislative session, and an anticipated $200-plus million in reduced caseload costs, the forecast improves the state’s financial picture by more than $2.5 billion – which has profound implications for the remainder of the 2018 session, Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said.

“This should completely scuttle the Democrats’ unconscionable scheme to impose a multibillion-dollar energy tax on hardworking families and employers, forcing them to pay 30 cents more for a gallon of gas in addition to higher heating and cooling bills. I question why the Senate budget committee would still go forward with a hearing on the energy tax later today, in light of this news.

“Today’s forecast should also end the Democrats’ perennial quest for a new state income tax, especially this year’s proposal for a new income tax in exchange for reducing the state property tax that pays for education. Clearly there’s enough revenue in hand already to offer relief from this year’s tax spike, before the lower rates take effect in 2019.

“I’m reminded of a dozen or so years ago, when Democrats used their one-party control to go on a spending spree with a similarly strong stream of revenue. They grew state government by more than one-third, and when the inevitable downturn came they responded with record tax increases.

“This good news is no excuse to launch even more programs and services. Any spending of this unforeseen revenue in the supplemental budget should focus on opportunities for targeted financial relief – not only for property owners, but also manufacturers and maybe college students too. And there are other one-time investments to consider, like expanding behavioral-health facilities or catching up on state park maintenance, that would bring good returns without making government bigger than it already is.

“There’s no question that the five years of tax stability our side of the aisle brought to the Capitol made for a friendlier business climate and in turn contributed to the solid economic performance we’re seeing. The last thing our state needs are new taxes that will discourage employers and hurt families simply to score political points.”