Rep. Jim Walsh, R, has filed a House Joint Resolution (HJR), which would begin the process of amending the Washington State Constitution to change how the state handles property taxes.
HJR 4200 seeks to allow a "California Proposition 13" type of property tax system whereby the assessed taxable value of certain residential real estate would be set at the time of sale or when significant improvements are made. The assessed taxable value could not be raised until the property is sold again.
Walsh had the following to say regarding the resolution:
"My constituents constantly ask me, as well as people from all parts of Washington, why we can't have a 'California Proposition 13' type of property tax system in this state. A system under which your property taxes are fixed, or fairly fixed, at one rate as long as you own your house or property. When I explain in order to do that, we would have to amend the Washington State Constitution, the response I usually get is, 'OK, let's do that.'
"For years, I've explained how difficult it is to amend the constitution. But people generally stand firm in their position. Sometimes, they'll say, 'We copy so much of the bad stuff they do in California. Why don't we copy some of the good stuff?'
"After having conversations like these, I'm surrendering to the voices of Washington homeowners. I've drafted a House Joint Resolution, the first step in amending the Washington State Constitution, that explicitly allows us to have a 'Proposition 13' style property tax system here in this state.
"This would radically change how we calculate and manage property taxes in Washington state, which would be a good thing, frankly. It would have fiscal and budgetary impacts reaching beyond just property tax bills. Decades ago, when California put its property tax system in place, it took several years of budgetary and other fine-tuning to make the system work. These changes would be good for our state.
"Washington homeowners have seen their property taxes skyrocket over the past decade. And the increases have been especially bad in just the past few years. Some of my constituents have seen annual increases of 30% and even 50%.
"These hikes far outpace inflation, the growth of the state's economy, or any other standard economic metric. They are crushing Washington's working families, retirees, and people living on fixed incomes. Regular, middle-class people are literally being taxed out of their homes. This isn't sustainable.
"HJR 4200 is a dramatic response. But it would fix the current crisis."