Washington State House Democrats


House Democrats unveil Families First budget

Families first.

That’s the driving principle behind the House Democratic proposed operating budget. People across the state have asked us how we can improve education, make college affordable, create thriving communities, and keep and improve access to quality health care.

That’s what Washingtonians care about and that’s what we’re funding in our budget.

Our budget fully funds education by investing in our classrooms, in our teachers, and in our kids.

When Democrats approached the education funding problem, our primary focus was on what’s best for our school kids.

Our budget invests $7.1 billion in additional dollars for our K-12 schools. We put that money toward paying teachers and ending the local school district reliance on levies to make up for funding shortfalls. We also raise beginning teacher salaries and invest in their ongoing professional learning. We also define teacher cost of living increases as part of basic education, which means teachers will receive fair compensation—just like voters approved under I-732.

The House Democratic budget also drives money directly into the classroom and into key school services, including:

  • Learning assistance programs to accelerate student growth and close the opportunity gap that plagues so many of our children;
  • Parent engagement coordinators, because families play a critical role in student success and getting parents more involved in their child’s education benefits everyone;
  • Guidance counselors to prepare the next generation for life after high school, whether it be college or a career;

These investments will put high-quality teachers in every classroom, give students the education they deserve, and keep our promise to fully funding education.

Education was our primary focus, but it’s certainly not our only focus.

Our families first budget funds critical human services, housing, civil legal aid, and quality care for our aging population and people with developmental disabilities.

We’re investing in the workers that Washington’s seven million residents rely on to provide those key services, the nurses and doctors that take care of our loved ones suffering from mental health disorders, and the state troopers who keep our roads safe.

That’s not all our budget does, however. We’re also FREEZING tuition for ALL state college students, increasing access to financial aid and, and investing in student success. We want the dream of going to college to be affordable for all Washington families.

We’re expanding early childhood education and ensuring safe, high quality childcare for working parents so that our kids are on the path to success.

We’re improving the lives of foster kids and the families that foster them by creating a new department focused solely on improving outcomes for children under the state’s care. It is our moral obligation to care for children in need.

Mental health is receiving a massive boost in funding as we integrate our behavioral and physical health care systems, invest in our state hospitals, and improve access in the community. This will help ensure loved ones in crisis receive care and treatment they need.

And we’re preserving critical Medicaid funding and services, investing in public health, and providing higher quality care. We’re also fully funding our state medical schools, to get more doctors out into our rural and underserved communities.

This budget funds the state’s constitutional and moral obligations. We’re investing in a future that keeps Washington a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

We’re not doing this without new resources, however. When we approached how to fully fund education, we knew there wasn’t enough money without cutting some or all of the critical state services mentioned above. Even our Republican colleagues agree that more money is needed, and they proposed a $5.5 billion property tax to fund their budget.

House Democrats are suggesting a different path. One that rejects the state’s upside down, regressive tax code and asks those at the top to chip in and pay their fair share for our state needs. Our revenue proposal doesn’t balance on the backs of working families or the middle class. Instead, we’re giving those families a better shot at the American Dream by investing in a strong economy that puts us on the path to rebuilding a strong middle class and prosperity for all Washingtonians.

Our revenue proposal focuses on building wealth for working families, ending corporate and costly tax breaks, leveling the playing field for Washington businesses competing with online retailers, and small business tax relief to help entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses thrive.

Building Wealth for Working Families – Homeownership is one of the best ways to move into the middle class. Homes are one of the only major assets the average American can afford to invest in their retirement. We’re changing the current real estate tax rate to a progressive rate that will lower costs for buying a home under $250,000 for working families and raises the rate for homes over $1 million.

Ending the corporate tax break on capital gains – Only nine states still allow the corporate tax break on capital gains. We are introducing a 7% excise tax on the sale of corporate stocks, bonds, and other gains with exemptions to protect retirement accounts and single-family homes and more. This taxes large corporate profits, not paychecks and generally affects less than 2% of tax filers.

Marketplace Fairness – Right now, Washington businesses are at a competitive disadvantage against out-of-state online retailers who don’t have to remit sales tax. House Democrats are leveling the playing field by giving online marketplaces a choice: Either collect and remit retail sales tax for Washington sales, just like every other business. Or you can report specific sales and use tax data to the Department of Revenue.

Small Business Tax Relief – The current Business & Occupation Tax is an imbalanced tax burden and we must fix it. By introducing a 20% increase in B&O tax rate on our highest grossing businesses, we’re able to reduce the tax liability for 72% of businesses to ZERO. Additionally we create a new small business deduction of $100,000 to businesses with taxable revenue between $250,000 and $500,000.

Closing Costly Tax Breaks – Washington state has 694 tax exemptions on the books which results in roughly $30 BILLION in taxes not collected each year. In past years, we’ve proposed closing these tax breaks and we’re continuing to push for these to be closed. They are not worth the cost to our kids education—prioritizing our kids over unnecessary and costly tax breaks.

We are investing in a strong economy because that’s how we fully fund education, give everyone a shot at the American Dream, and create thriving communities that produce the great businesses and success stories we expect from Washington.