April 17, 2019

Survey finds little support for raising taxes

By: Jason Hagey   Comments: 0

Two-thirds of respondents in a new public opinion survey do not support proposals to raise taxes on Washington citizens, with more than half saying they “strongly oppose” the idea.

The survey reveals a major divide between the general public and lawmakers in Olympia who are debating whether to raise more than $1 billion in new and higher taxes at a time when the state is already experiencing remarkable revenue growth.

"Washington’s tax revenues have grown substantially since the end of the recession, with the state now projecting collections to top $50 billion for the next two-year budget," said Association of Washington Business President Kris Johnson. "That means lawmakers have $5.6 billion more to spend on the next budget, without raising any new taxes. It’s clear from this survey that most Washington voters believe this is enough to fund the state’s priorities."

The statewide survey of 608 Washington voters was commissioned by the Association of Washington Business and conducted April 4-9 by DHM Research. It has margin of error of plus or minus 4%.

The survey asked respondents whether they supported proposals from Gov. Jay Inslee and Democrats in the state Legislature to raise taxes and increase the size of the state budget, noting that lawmakers will have almost $50.6 billion to spend in the 2019-21 state budget without raising taxes. That represents a 16% increase from the previous budget.

Knowing this, 67% of respondents said they opposed calls for new and higher taxes, while just 27% supported new taxes. Six percent said they didn’t know. Of those who opposed raising taxes, 52% said they “strongly oppose” the idea and 15% “somewhat oppose.”

The survey also shows nearly half of respondents believe they are paying for the right level of programs and services. Forty-seven percent said Washington should keep taxes and funding for programs and services at current levels with just 14% saying Washington should raise taxes and increase funding for programs and services.

Thirty-three percent said the state should lower taxes and reduce funding for programs and services, meaning 80% say the state should either maintain current levels of taxes and services or reduce them.

“We understand the pressures on the state budget and the competing demands for state funding,” Johnson said. “At the same time, we’re concerned that raising taxes now, on top of the growth that’s already occurred, risks derailing the strong economy that’s allowed Washington’s tax revenue to grow at such a remarkable rate for the last decade. We’re also mindful of the uneven recovery Washington has experienced, with unemployment remaining stubbornly high in parts of the state.

“As legislators debate a new state budget in the final weeks of this legislative session, we hope they will focus on maintaining Washington’s robust economy, expanding it into the rural parts of the state that have not experienced the same growth as the urban areas, and making smart choices that prepare us for the next downturn, whenever it occurs.”

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