Those hoping beyond hope that the Washington State Legislature would attempt to soften yet another $6 billion-or-so budget shortfall by boldly proposing new revenue sources, might be disheartened to learn that the House Democratic Caucus kicked off its latest round of belt-tightening last Friday by eliminating the House Finance Committee… the panel that considers all revenue proposals. That was the word from Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, who I cornered at last night’s 37th LD Dems holiday party.
I guess with the passage of Tim Eyman’s I-1053, and the governor’s subsequent no-new-tax pledge, there wasn’t going to be much for the committee to do, and so its responsibilities were folded into that of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which now becomes all the more powerful in the wake of this leaner/meaner House reorganization.
But before the anti-tax crowd rejoices too loudly at this symbolic victory, they should remember that while the occasional tax increase did make it through the Finance Committee and onto the floor, by far the larger chunk of the panel’s legacy this past decade was its crafting of the billions of dollars of special interest tax exemptions that ultimately helped plunge our state budget into its current fiscal crevasse.
So a good part of me can’t help but mutter “good riddance” at the committee’s demise.