Hawkins concerned Democrats will push through big tax increases this year

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12th District Senator, Brad Hawkins provided photo

State Sen. Brad Hawkins said he’s concerned that with their bigger majorities in both the Senate and House, Democrats will push through big tax increases for Washington residents this session of the Legislature.

Gov. Jay Inslee wants both an increase in the business and occupation tax and a new capital gains tax as part of his $54.64 billion budget proposal. In total, Inslee wants to spend 21 percent more in the next biennium.

“Altogether, I think additional revenue through his taxes is in the neighborhood of $3 billion or more and that concerns me a great deal, said Hawkins, an East Wenatchee Republican. “In the past the governor and the majority parties haven’t had the votes to advance them.  But the pendulum has swung quite a bit over with these recent elections.”

Democrats have a 28-21 majority in the Senate and a 57-41 advantage in the House.

In his State of the State address Tuesday, Inslee called for urgent action on climate change, mental health reform and a free college program, among other things.

“Unfortunately for the people of the state of Washington, we could be seeing some significant tax increases from Olympia,” Hawkins said.

It could be an uphill battle, but there is still hope that not enough Democrats will go along with big spending increases, he said.

“I think there’s a possibility that if there are a handful of moderate Democrats, for example, in the Senate that want to provide some push back, the Senate Republicans, all 21 of us, can work with those moderate Democrats to try to push back,” Hawkins said.

It’s possible the B&O tax increase could fall by the wayside, Hawkins said, but the capital gains tax get approved as some sort of tax the wealthy proposal.

“Me personally, I don’t like any of them,” Hawkins said, adding that a capital gains tax could hit people far beyond the very wealthy.

Significant tax increases also could “compromise or undermine” the state economy, which has been doing well, he said.

Hawkins said he has developed a reputation in Olympia as someone who is willing to work across the aisle. He said he will likely be spending the first days and weeks of the session trying to gauge how successfully he can still work with his Democratic colleagues when they have such a large majority.