Don’t be misled by the overwhelming number of vote in favor of restoring a 1 percent cap on property tax growth. It will happen this afternoon.
Many of the "yes" votes will be pretty unhappy. In fact, word around Olympia is that Senate Democrats didn’t have enough votes to pass its own version of Initiative 747, and some of them didn’t get on board until Gov. Chris Gregoire let them add the tax deferral bill to the special session agenda.
Why? Who knows, really?
Maybe majority Democrats in the House and Senate didn’t want to look as if they were simply reacting to calls from Republicans, GOP gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and Tim Eyman to quickly reinstate the 1 percent limit. So they had to do something that was their own idea.
"Restore, but do more." That’s how the Senate Democrats portrayed the special session. Was it so urgent it that the deferral program be passed today? No. In fact, there won’t be any money to pay for it until the Legislature passes a supplemental budget next year. And it will take the counties and the state Department of Revenue time to gear up for the new applicants.
The unhappy yes votes will come from lawmakers who come from city or county councils or who have sympathy for local governments. They’d like to see the locals keep the flexibility to raise property taxes higher than 1 percent.
Expect the Legislature to revisit this whole issue in 2009, AFTER the November 2008 election. They must might set a cap that is pegged to the rate of inflation.
And by January 2009, the housing and construction boom that has generated so much extra sales and real estate taxes for the locals will have dried up some, and they’ll be hurting. And looking for more money.