Our current situation: The default position of our state government over the past couple of decades has seemed to be: If the desired spending exceeds revenue, then raise taxes. The evidence is that the state budget has grown far faster than the combined rates of inflation and population growth.
When the legislature is has been limited in raising “taxes”, they have resorted to raising “fees” from one source and then transferring the money raised to pay for an unrelated expenditure. And often times this spending is because the legislature is overreaching its intended constitutional scope. Part of the reason for this is that one party has had control in Olympia for most of the past few decades. A thriving economy is built when families are allowed to keep more of their hard earned money and spend it as they see fit, rather than government taking it and spending it for them.
My solution: I support budgeting by the Priorities of Government. Instead of starting by funding all existing programs, we should first fund education, public safety and protection of our truly most vulnerable. Then as we move down our priorities, instead of arguing for a tax increase for schools and police (which we often see) we’ll find it is much more difficult to argue for tax increases for much lower priorities.
Additionally, I have pledged that I will never vote for any increase in the tax burden on the people of the State of Washington. Even in the most catastrophic of circumstances, if we need to increase funding for a truly essential purpose of government, there is already enough money that can be freed up from non-essential items.
With formation of the Senate Majority Coalition in 2013, a truly bipartisan budget passed with the highest margin anyone can recall in Washington State. With Republicans leading the budgeting process from 2013-2017, billions more dollars were actually put toward education which had only been talked about for many years. The state is finally fully funding education. This is what can happen when all four caucuses are involved in negotiations.
(Unfortunately, in 2018 we reverted back to one party control in Washington State. Flush with excessive revenue, instead of providing property tax relief to Washingtonians, we raided the Rainy Day Fund, increased our budget by 14% and passed a budget that only one party supported.)