State Rep. Frank Chopp on Thursday proposed a $2 billion revenue and spending package — including new taxes on capital gains and large corporations — to confront Washington’s staggering economic downturn amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Progressive Priorities and Progressive Revenues Plan” would boost spending on public health services, child care and early learning, workforce education, affordable housing and other programs.
Before stepping down from leadership last year, Chopp, a Democrat from Seattle, spent a generation as House speaker and one of Washington’s most powerful politicians.
Now, Chopp is running for reelection as a rank-and-file lawmaker. Meanwhile, legislators in both parties and Gov. Jay Inslee are reckoning with a state revenue shortfall expected to exceed $7 billion through 2023.
“We can’t simply cut our way out of a recession,” Chopp said in an interview. “It’s better to invest in our people and lay the groundwork for the economy and people in the future.”
His plan would implement a new tax on some capital gains to fund affordable housing, workforce education and a tax credit for low-income families.
It would create a payroll-style tax similar to Washington’s existing family-and-medical-leave law to fund early-learning programs and child care services.
And his proposal would impose a tax on large corporations, assessing them for each employee they have who earns more than $500,000 annually. That would fund public health services and Washington’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the sourcing of protective medical gear from inside the state.
“It’s not good that we didn’t have that equipment during this pandemic,” Chopp said. “We shouldn’t make that mistake again.”
Chopp faces Sherae Lascelles of the Seattle People’s Party and Democratic challenger Jessi Murray for the 43rd District seat. The top two finishers in the Aug. 4 primary move on to the November general election.
Lascelles’ campaign website puts forth a platform that “champions the values of mutual aid, harm reduction, and representation of the most intersectionally marginalized.”
Murray, who is a Seattle LGBTQ commissioner, said she respects Chopp’s work on low-income housing and for the labor community. But Murray said she believed Chopp moved too slowly on some progressive issues during his time as speaker.
“The time for incremental change is over,” she said. “We need to be bold and systemic about how we can tackle the major issues that we’re going to face, that we’re facing now.”
As of Thursday, Chopp had raised $71,874 for the election, Murray had raised $47,556 and Lascelles had raised $1,560, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.