The $327 million bump in state tax collections forecasted by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) this afternoon is not a win for lawmakers opposed to implementing the common-sense capital gains tax on the Washington state’s richest households. New funding for schools must reach roughly $4.5 billion by 2019 in order to satisfy the state Supreme Court’s mandate. Relying on short-term solutions – including temporary revenue growth and one-time budget gimmicks – to fund this long-term requirement is a recipe for disaster. Yet that’s what the anti-tax members of the State Senate propose to do.
The $327 million in additional state tax resources projected by ERFC would not even offset half of the $723 million in unsustainable budget tricks included in the Senate budget proposal. Those gimmicks include diverting money dedicated to public infrastructure projects and banking on unrealistic savings from efficiencies. And they simply aren’t sustainable.
In addition to providing long-term funding for schools in Washington state, significantly more resources are needed to give workers a raise, reverse cuts in important services such as food assistance, and improve the quality of early learning.
With the revenue forecast now behind them, leaders in the state Senate now have the opportunity to turn their attention toward fixing Washington state’s upside-down tax system and sustainably funding education and other important priorities in the coming years. Taxing capital gains and closing wasteful tax breaks, as proposed by leaders in the State House of Representatives, would be a good step in the right direction.