House Republican budget leader Drew Stokesbary ‘underwhelmed’ by Governors Budget

Governor Jay Inslee unveiled his proposed two-year state operating budget Thursday in Olympia, with new taxes on capital gains and health care premiums. Legislative Republicans are not impressed. John Sattgast reports.

Cap and trade, capital gains and a three-dollar-a-month increase on health insurance premiums are among the millions of dollars of new taxes the governor wants. Representative Drew Stokesbary, the lead Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, called the governor’s budget proposal “underwhelming.”

“I would have thought that after eight years of practice, he might have been able to come up with a few new bold ideas. But apparently, someone told him that the ninth time is the charm and he took that to heart.”

Stokesbary says the governor’s budget would drain the state’s rainy-day fund and grow government by another $4 billion – but would do little to help families struggling in a pandemic economy. The Auburn Republican thinks now is the time to fund the Working Families Tax Rebate program, rather than making families pay more taxes.

“Working families need relief now more than ever. They’ve had a very rough 2020. And I think a lot of people are very anxious about what 2021 has in store. And this would have been the best time to do that. But instead of a tax rebate, he is proposing to raise their gas prices, raise their home energy prices and raise the cost of their health care.”

Stokesbary says improving revenues means the state budget can be balanced without tax increases or deep cuts. Republicans say their first priority in the 2021 session is to provide economic recovery for small businesses hurt by the COVID shutdowns. The legislative session begins January 11.