How Special Was the Special Session

The Washington State Legislature, at the request of Governor Gregoire, held a special session on November 29 to deal with the fallout of the 1% property tax lid that was ruled unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court. How special was this session? Well, the legislature hit it right on one out of four issues.

The majority of state legislators voted YES to restoring a one percent property tax cap which reinstates the provisions from I-747. Thank you legislature for validating our vote on this issue. We really did know what we were voting for when we passed I-747. Voters: 1, State Supreme Court: 0
Unfortunately, the provisions of I-722, which was also thrown out by the State Supreme Court, was not reinstated by the legislature. I-722 would have protected property owners from an additional $259 million of taxes. Approximately 1700 taxing districts (cities, counties, etc.) still have the ability to raise taxes above the 1% limit because in previous years they stayed under the one percent state limit on tax increases. This past unused tax authority gives them “banked” tax capacity. Already many taxing districts are using this loophole to raise property taxes 4% and higher. Voters: 0, Government: 1

Another loophole in state law already allows for taxing districts to bust the 1% cap for remodels, new construction and unexpected needs. So the 1% isn’t really 1% after all. It’s more like 5% which explains why annual property taxes seem to increase so much even with supposed 1% protection. Property owners: 0, Government: 1

State Practices Predatory Lending

Under the guise of family friendly policy, Democrats passed a tax deferral bill (HB 2417) that allows families making less than $57,000 a year to defer half of their property tax bills.

Many property owners are looking for tax relief but this bill has potentially devastating consequences for seniors and vulnerable families. In exchange for deferring payment on 50% of our property tax bill the state puts a lien on the home and charges interest on the deferred amount. Homeowners will pay the money back—with interest—when they sell the property or die.
Most Republicans and a few Democrats voted no on this bill recognizing that the reason so many family budgets are stressed is because taxes are too high. Wouldn’t the better solution be for  elected officials provide genuine tax relief instead of placing a lien on the family home.  Seniors and vulnerable families: 0, Government: 1