Ericksen: State costs down $90 million – more reason for $1 billion property tax cut

New caseload forecast shows $90 million reduction in state costs

Tax collections up $3 billion since Trump inauguration

State has more than enough to provide $1 billion in property tax relief

OLYMPIA – A new state caseload forecast shows state costs will decline $90 million over the next two years – bolstering the case for a $1 billion property tax cut this year.

So says state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, sponsor of a bill that responds to an urgent problem for homeowners and property owners statewide. A one-time “spike” in property taxes has sent property tax bills skyrocketing at a time when state coffers are overflowing with billions of dollars in new tax collections.

“Now we know state costs are going down, and we have even more reason to return tax money to the struggling families of Washington,” Ericksen said. “They are being walloped this year by some of the biggest property tax increases we have ever seen. It’s time we do the right thing and give that money back.”

Ericksen’s bill, SB 6439, would keep property taxes at last year’s levels. The temporary increase in property taxes is caused largely by a school-financing plan adopted by the Legislature last session. While a new flat-rate state levy is ratcheted up this year, school districts are permitted to continue using local school levies for basic education. Yet next year, when the new financing plan is fully implemented and local levies are eliminated, property taxes will decrease for 73 percent of Washington residents.

Since lawmakers passed their last budget in June, the state has seen dramatic increases in projected tax collections – a total $2.3 billion. That makes $3 billion in increased tax collections since the start of the Trump Administration in January 2017. Meanwhile, state welfare rolls are down.

At Friday’s meeting of the state Caseload Forecast Council, members were told that the cost of the state’s biggest welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, has declined 1.6 percent. Overall reduction in state costs is $60 million in 2017-19 and $30 million in 2019-21.

“We’re starting to see that federal efforts to stimulate our economy are working,” Ericksen said. “We’re seeing record increases in tax collections. We don’t need to raise property taxes to pay for our schools. It’s time we provide real relief to the hardworking people of Washington state.”