Washington State House Democrats


Legislative Update: Budget / Property Taxes / Common-Sense Gun Laws & School Safety

A budget that puts people first

This week we passed the 2018 supplemental operating budget in the House. The supplemental budget makes corrections and adjustments to the biennial budget we passed last year. Some of the highlights in this budget include increased funding for public schools, $1 billion for teacher compensation, mental health services, college financial aid, and small business assistance. For more information, read this press release.

A long-term plan to lower property taxes

Last year, when the Legislature went down to the last possible day to pass a budget or face a state government shutdown, Democrats struggled with the options in front of us. Republicans controlled the state Senate and refused to support our revenue options to fully fund schools. They insisted on property taxes and my colleagues and I were very conflicted.

In the end, we negotiated a much lower property tax increase and hoped that we could lower property taxes later on. That time is now. Democrats have proposed both short-term and long-term property tax cut plans. In the short-term, we’ll use some of the extra revenue that has come in this past year and lower taxes in the immediate future. That doesn’t solve the long-term problem of those Republican property taxes, which is why I’m supporting an excise tax on Capital Gains on the wealthiest individuals in our state.

Property taxes

The proposal exempts all single-family residences, retirement accounts, including your IRA or 401k, as well as ranching livestock, sale of agricultural or timberlands or timber. And, it exempts the sale of a qualifying family-owned small business if the business grosses less than $20 million in the previous year.

If you have never paid a federal capital gains tax, it is highly unlikely that you would pay the state capital gains tax.

An estimated 48,000 tax filers would pay the capital gains versus the 2.3 million households looking at increased property tax bills this year. I’m supporting this long-term property tax relief that makes our tax code a little fairer for working and middle-class families.

Addressing common-sense gun legislation and school safety

gun laws

After the devastating shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, people across the nation are rightfully demanding more than thoughts and prayers to prevent future mass shootings. Many of you have contacted me asking what the Washington legislature is doing to address gun violence.  I believe these bills will make a significant difference:

  • SB 5992 bans the manufacture and sale of bump-fire stocks, which are trigger modifications that allow a semi-automatic firearm to replicate a fully automatic one. Essentially, it begins to close the machine gun loophole.  (Passed both chambers)
  • SB 5553 authorizes a person to voluntarily waive their firearm rights. This will reduce the risk of harm for people in crisis who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. (Passed both chambers)
  • SB 6298 prohibits individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence from owning a firearm. (Passed both chambers)
  • SB 6620 creates a grant program for emergency response systems, raises the purchase age for semi-automatic rifles and some modified shotguns from 18 to 21, and requires more rigorous background checks for buyers of those firearms. (In Senate Ways and Means Committee)
  • HB 2519 brings consistency between firearms returns and CPL license returns to ensure that only those who are legally eligible for a concealed pistol license will get them. (Passed House, waiting for a vote in the Senate)

But gun laws alone are not enough, we need comprehensive reform that includes gun safety and mental health resources, especially in our schools. I discuss this issue in my most recent Ask Lillian video, you can watch it here. There is still much work to do; we are looking at several bills addressing mental health this session, including these two that I sponsored:

  • HB 1377 requires intentional collaboration with mental health counselors. It emphasizes the need for counselors, social workers and psychologists to have the time to build relationships with our students and focus on identifying students in crisis. It also challenges the current staffing ratio and the need to forecast and fund the appropriate staffing ratios. This is a key start to supporting our students and ensuring their safety. (Passed both chambers)
girl thinking

  • HB 2861 addresses trauma-informed childcare. Currently, not many childcare providers are equipped to work with children who have experienced or are experiencing trauma. When children are exposed to trauma, they may exhibit aggressive behavior, which can lead to suspensions and expulsions, and more behavioral problems later in life. This bill sets up an advisory group to look at these issues and develop solutions. By addressing the needs of our traumatized children in early childhood centers, we can reduce the impact of the trauma. (Passed House, waiting for a vote in the Senate)

In addition to these measures, we are also making significant investments toward mental health in our biennial and supplemental budgets:  $186 million in the capital budgets and $362 million in the operating budgets.

I appreciate your interest and the time you take to read my newsletter. Please don’t hesitate to call or email me with your questions and concerns.

Best regards,

Ortiz-Self Sig