Smart budgeting is about people, not politics
Confronting the financial challenges caused by COVID-19 continues to be my primary focus during this session. Although there's growing confidence the rapid deployment of the vaccine may end the health pandemic, the economic impact will be felt long into the future.
Unemployment continues to be a problem as thousands of individuals and families wonder how they'll keep a roof over their heads and food on their table. Some industries have been more wounded than others, with jobs in retail, restaurants, even dentist offices, wiped out across our state.
And yet, despite these hardships, from a state budgeting perspective, we are looking at very modest deficits, and even a slight surplus in state revenue. Recent positive financial projections mean we have more than enough to see us through the ongoing crisis.
Why is that important? It means our economy, though damaged, has been remarkably robust and even resistant to the financial effects of the virus-induced restrictions. It also means that without cutting vital state-provided services or raising taxes, we can fund all of our state's existing needs and priorities.
That's really good news. The Legislature has solved far more complex budget issues than what exists today. We have the resources necessary to create a plan that doesn't overburden individuals, families, or businesses—and even provides some relief.
Smart budgeting during the pandemic is about people, not politics. That's why I'm strongly supportive of the recently released Real Opportunities for All Washingtonians 2021-23 operating budget proposal. Instead of raising taxes, it actually reduces them by $445 million.
The plan includes more than $6.2 billion in savings items, many of which were recommended by state agencies as part of their budget evaluation exercise directed by the governor in 2020. By appropriating money from the state's rainy-day fund for a series of one-time, COVID-related expenses—which is projected to rebound quickly—it's able to provide significant relief for working Washingtonians.
Highlights include $300 stipends to low-income families to defray the costs of remote learning; grants for childcare providers; copay assistance for families; and a sales tax exemption for necessities, like prepared food and diapers.
Even more importantly, for the first time in its 12-year history, it would fund the Working Families Tax Credit. Enacting this effective program would put money directly in the pockets of hard-working, low-income people across our state.
All of that, and no new taxes—including no income tax on capital gains—is a great reason to support this proposal. It's sustainable, responsible, and just plain common sense. To learn more visit houserepublicans.wa.gov.
As always, if you have comments or questions about this budget proposal or other state-government related matters, please contact me. I'm always glad to hear from you.
Rep. Greg Gilday has practiced law locally for several years. He and his wife, Megan, live on Camano Island with their two sons, Laker and Graham.