April 8, 2021
Senate’s operating budget spends too much, relies on unneeded taxes
By Sen. Mark Schoesler
OLYMPIA–Somehow, it was fitting that the Senate Democrats’ new two-year operating budget SB 5092, was passed on April Fool’s Day. Between the sharp spending increase and the two new (and very unnecessary) taxes that help fund it, this budget should be considered a bad joke at the expense of taxpayers. Total spending in the Senate budget is $59.5 billion. It’s $7 billion more than the current budget, or equal to a 13% increase in spending. If the Senate budget is enacted, the operating budget will have grown by over $20 billion, or over 50%, in just six years.
Capital gains tax passes
By Sen. Mark Schoesler
OLYMPIA–Senate Bill 5096, the proposal creating a 7% state income tax on capital gains was passed by the Senate last month and is awaiting a vote in the House.
A “cap-and-tax” proposal Senate Bill 5126 would set statewide emissions limits. Companies could purchase a “permit to emit” at an auction run by the Department of Ecology. The bill calls for allowable emissions to decline each year. If this bill becomes law, it will tax people $500 million a year just to have a permit to emit. Revenues from this bill are supposed to go to transportation, but no guarantee it will be used for this purpose, and what is called a Climate Investment Account. If SB 5126 becomes law, it’s expected to cause gas prices to increase 20 cents a gallon, eventually rising an additional 40 cents by the end of the decade. The Senate Republican budget proposal outlined a better approach to this would be to use the tax from vehicle sales to fund road project needs.
USDA Recognizes 5 Million Acres Enrolled in Conservation Easements
WASHINGTON D.C.–The Biden-Harris Administration and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect the nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including soil, air and water through carbon sequestration and easements.
The USDA and private landowners have partnered to protect more than 5 million acres of wetlands, grasslands, and prime farmland–an area the size of New Jersey. Since October, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has enrolled 110,000 acres in new conservation easements, bringing USDA to this important conservation milestone. Wetland easements total 2.8 million acres nationwide and agricultural land easements, including grassland easements, total more than 1.9 million acres.
USDA Seeks Public Input to Help Create a New Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program
WASHINGTON D.C.–The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is requesting public input from interested parties, including potential customers and interested stakeholders, to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. To ensure a diverse group of voices are heard, USDA is seeking written comments and will host a public listening session on April 22, 2021.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (PL116-260) provided $10 million to USDA to develop a pilot program that provides financial assistance to rural communities to further develop renewable energy.
Initial claims increased slightly, continued regular claims decrease
OLYMPIA–There were 11,445 initial regular unemployment claims (up 0.5 percent from the prior week) and 430,077 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 1.3 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD) during the week of March 21 – March 27.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman calls for nominations for Washington’s Medals of Merit and Valor
OLYMPIA–The Office of the Secretary of State is now accepting nominations for Washington’s Medals of Merit and Valor.
The Medal of Merit recognizes exceptional individuals who perform outstanding services for Washington and its residents. The Medal of Valor is awarded to anyone who has saved, or attempted to save, the life of another at the risk of their own safety.