In a statement released on Wednesday, state Senate Republican Leader Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and Republican ranking member for the Senate Ways and Means Committee Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, heralded a recently released revenue forecast as evidence supporting their continued calls for tax reductions as a way of decreasing the effects of the high levels of inflation the country is experiencing.
The forcecast, released on Wednesday morning after a meeting of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC), showed an increase in revenues of $1.55 billion for the 2021-2023 budget cycle the state is currently in and a $1.11 billion increase for the 2023-2025 biennium.
“It’s ridiculous for the Legislature to be sitting on a growing mountain of cash while families across our state are struggling to afford the basics and watching their buying power shrink because of inflation,” Braun said in the statement.
Braun repeated his call for the Legislature to meet in a special session to suspend the gas tax, which he claims would “immediately lower the price at the pump by almost 50 cents.”
The Republican leader also criticized Gov. Jay Inslee for what Braun believed were false claims.
“Either he doesn’t understand the details of the legislation or he is willfully misleading the people,” Braun said about Inslee.
Braun then pointed to the Democratic governors of New York and California as examples of Democrats who have pushed for changes to their states’ gas taxes in the face of inflation before accusing Democrats in the Legislature of supporting Inslee on the issue of gas tax suspension.
“The members of the current legislative majority seem to be in lockstep with his no-relief attitude,” Braun said.
Wilson, who in addition to serving as the top Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee serves as a member of the ERFC, focused her criticism more squarely on her Democratic colleagues in the Legislature.
“Let’s remember also how Democrats not only opposed our bill to reduce property taxes, but even blocked Republican legislation to make diapers tax-free and backtracked on their own modest offer to allow free entry to state parks and fairs,” Wilson said.
Wilson claimed Washington residents have experienced “government greed” since Democrats took control of both houses of the Legislature in late 2017.
“As there’s no end in sight for this wave of inflation, why won’t the majority join with Republicans to get some dollars back into the hands of families — starting with a suspension of the gas tax? The trouble is, I see no signs of empathy from our Democratic colleagues for the financial struggles many of their constituents are experiencing,” Wilson said.