Ericksen: $1.3B increase in state tax projections strengthens case for property tax relief

  • State now has $2.3 billion more than projected last year
  • Ericksen bill provides immediate $1 billion property tax cut
  • Urgent proposal responds to dramatic increases in 2018 property taxes

OLYMPIA – A new forecast of state tax collections shows the Legislature is awash in money – and makes an even stronger argument for immediate property tax relief, says state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council raised its projections Thursday by $1.3 billion. That money is in addition to the $1 billion in new tax collections that have been projected since lawmakers adopted a state budget last year.

“Now we have $2.3 billion in new tax money,” Ericksen said. “We more than enough money to provide property tax relief to homeowners and property owners across the state. People are angry about the property tax bills they are getting this year, and the right thing to do is to return that money to the taxpayers.

“At a time when state coffers are overflowing, how can we say no to people who are hurting?”

Ericksen is proposing a $1 billion property tax cut to deal with a one-time “spike” in 2018 property taxes. The problem is caused by the new school-financing plan adopted by lawmakers last year. Local school-district levies for basic education will be replaced by a flat-rate state levy. By the time the plan is fully implemented in 2019, 73 percent of Washington residents will see a property tax reduction.

The problem is that the school-financing plan allows local school district levies for basic education to continue in 2018, while the state levy is increased. In many areas, the result has been a dramatic increase in 2018 property taxes. Property taxes in King County are increasing an average 17 percent this year – as much as 31 percent in some areas. In Snohomish County, they are increasing an average 16 percent, and as much as 27 percent.

Ericksen’s proposal, SB 6439, would fix the problem – by providing immediate reductions in 2018 property taxes. The state property tax levy would remain at 2017 levels.

During debate on a school financing bill in the Senate Wednesday night, members of the Senate Democratic Caucus rejected an amendment that would have enacted the same proposal, 25-22. Meanwhile, House Democrats have proposed a bill, HB 2967, that would link property tax reductions to enactment of an income tax on capital gains, yet would not provide relief until 2021, long after the temporary crisis has passed.

“We need to help taxpayers now,” Ericksen said. “We have the money. Time is tight. We should not allow political arguments to get in the way.”