By Rep. Mike Chapman, Representative-24th Legislative District
Soon, the first property tax bills for 2018 will hit mailboxes and you’re probably going to be shocked. Property taxes are going up this year for just about every property owner in Washington state. Why? Glad you asked.
Last year, as the state government was on the verge of shutdown over a contentious budget that was required to fully fund schools, Democrats proposed comprehensive tax reform. That reform included lowering taxes on homeowners looking to sell, and small business owners trying to survive, while asking powerful corporations and the wealthiest individuals to pay a little more.
Republicans refused to even consider those options and were ready to shut down the government unless we accepted the Republican Property Tax plan. That plan raised property taxes on Washingtonians by $5.5 billion, the largest property tax hike in state history which I voted against. You can read more about the proposals from both sides in this op-ed written by the House Democrat’s chief budget negotiators last May as negotiations were ongoing.
At the end of the day, Democrats compromised and agreed to the Republican property tax increase in order to fund schools and all of the other important state services—though we did manage to cut the taxes down considerably.
I know that for many of our friends and neighbors, a few hundred dollars more in property taxes can be a significant hardship. I also know that this regressive plan disproportionately places this burden on some areas of the state, especially the 24th legislative district.
For many years, I have advocated for a more fair tax system in Washington. At the same time, I remain committed to fully funding education and other essential state services. It’s a balancing act: lower taxes and you have to cut school funding, or funding for foster kids, or staff at mental hospitals. Raise taxes to pay for increased costs and middle and working class families suffer.
It’s time we seriously consider Democratic proposals that lower property taxes without hurting our schools. I am working to help create a more fair and progressive tax structure that doesn’t hurt retirees and working families in our community.