Inflation is pushing Washington’s already-high cost of living even higher
Washingtonians squeezed despite record surplus
Washington is already one of the most expensive states to live in – and inflation is making it even less affordable. The cost of living in the evergreen state is 13% higher than the national average. Housing and healthcare are each 22% above the national average, while transportation is 18% higher and goods and services are 12% above average.
Taken locally, the cost of living in Seattle is a shocking 54% higher than the national average. Over the last year, prices in the Emerald City are up 9% over last year, with food and energy leading the increase.
Decision-makers in Olympia seem determined to make things worse, while our state budget can certainly afford to provide relief.
Washington is bringing in more money than expected in revenue forecasts, providing room in the budget to ease the financial burden on Washingtonians. At a recent Economic Revenue Forecast Council quarterly meeting, Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, said, “We’re up another $1.4 billion,” he said. “We’re up by $6 billion in this biennium alone. “Why we can’t look at, you know, some form of tax relief is beyond me.”
With Washingtonians facing record inflation and state government coming off record surpluses, government officials not only seem uninterested in relief, but are doubling down and raising taxes in many areas.
Since Inslee took office in 2013, he has pushed an expensive agenda. To pay for it, he has not made cuts in other areas or leaned on the state’s surplus but, instead, has relied upon raising taxes. It’s made Washington one of the most expensive states in the nation.
The state’s gas tax – already one of the highest in the nation – is set to increase next year and Washington is the only Democrat-controlled state not considering some form of gas tax relief.
At the same time, property taxes are making the state unaffordable and things like Seattle’s natural gas ban will only speed up the rate at which people are priced out of the state.
When asked about relief from gas and property taxes, Inslee touts a Washington Families Tax Credit that would not go into effect until 2023 – when other tax increases like the gas tax are set to go into effect as well. Washington State Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, took Inslee to task for not responding to the urgent needs of Washingtonians. “The governor and his people keep pointing to the Working Families Tax Credit because they have nothing else,” Braun said. “It’s like a pony that knows only one trick, so that’s all you’re going to get, even if everyone knows the tax credit won’t do a thing to help people now.”
Olympia needs to put Washingtonians ahead of their expensive agendas and provide relief before their tax base finds greener pastures.