Seventeen House Democrats have signed onto HB 2117 in the Washington State Legislature. House Bill 2117 would re-enact the provisions of Eyman’s Initiative 747. Initiative 747 is currently being reviewed by the Washington State Supreme Court after a lower court overturned it.
I-747 limited revenue growth from property taxes each year to the lesser of 1% or inflation, whichever is lower. The problem is that if inflation is greater than 1%, the revenues available to cities and counties do not keep up with inflation and fewer services can be provided.
Many cities and counties, particularly ones that are experiencing little new construction, are facing revenue shortfalls. This is particularly true for some counties in eastern Washington.
In addition many voters are confused when they see their property tax bills go up 5% or more each year in their taxing district. They don’t understand that the 1% limit applies to the overall property tax valuations. If some homes increase in value faster than other homes in a city or county they will see a bigger tax increase on their personal property tax bills. The 1% limit does not refer to an individual taxpayer ‘s property taxes being limited to only a 1% increase.
What Washington State needs is a Property Tax Homestead Exemption on people’s principal residence. It could either be a flat exemption on all homes – like the first $50,000 of valuation is not taxed. Or it could be a percentage of the median property tax in a county – like the first 25% of the median property tax valuation is exempt from being taxed.
Tim Eyman signed into the Legislative hearings this year on property tax bills as opposed to the Homestead Exemption. He is not interested in changing our tax system to one that is fairer and less regressive – he is only for an across the Board cutting of taxes , which cuts funding for local services.
It seems that some Democrats aren’t willing to take a closer look at alternatives like the Property Tax Homestead Exemption or Circuit Breakers which would benefit those homeowners most needing help – low and middle income households, who pay a higher percentage of their wages for property taxes than the more wealthy do.
It is important that taxpayers contact their legislators and urge them not to re-enact I-747. There are better solutions to solving rising property tax burdens than across the board property tax cuts which benefit wealthy property owners like shopping malls and developers more than the average taxpayer struggling to make ends meet.
The Washington Tax Fairness Coalition has set up a website page that will allow you to communicate your opposition to rushing to enact I-747, rather than look at alternative property tax proposals that specifically help low and middle income homeowners most in need of help.
Click here to send a message to Legislators. This is a link that allows you to send a message to your Legislators. The Washington Tax Fairness Coalition message is on both I-747 and their priority bill to have a tax exemption report included as part of the State budget. You can modify their text to send your own message.
Washington State House Democrats supporting re-enacting Eyman’s I-747:
Christopher Hurst L.D. 31
Kevin Van De Wege L.D. 24
John McCoy L.D. 38
Dean Takko L.D. 19
Don Barlow L.D. 6
Troy Kelley L.D. 28
Christine Rolfes L.D. 23
Larry Seaquist L.D. 26
Mark Ericks L.D. 1
Deborah Eddy L.D. 48
Ross Hunter L.D. 48
Dave Quail L.D. 40
Lynn Kessler L.D. 24
Dawn Morrell L.D. 25
Brian Blake L.D. 19
Pat Sullivan L.D. 47
Patricia Lantz L.D. 26
These Legislators need to hear from their constituents that they don’t support I-747 tax cuts that hurt local services like paying for police, fire, parks, and libraries by not allowing revenues to even keep up with inflation. Eyman’s I-747 was not tax reform for a fairer tax system, it was a tax cutting measure to cut local government services. It is the wrong answer to fairer taxes for Washington taxpayers!