Legislative Successes

Coming into the 2017 Legislative Session we knew two things. First, because of a Supreme Court order, the Legislature was going to have to spend significantly more money on K-12 education. Second, we knew that real estate and REALTORS® were in the cross hairs on where that revenue would come from. With a final budget vote taken on June 30th we can now tell you who the winners this session were - schools in our communities and also small businesses like yours.

Quality Schools Build Quality Communities

 We know that quality schools help our communities thrive. That is why we supported several new sources of revenue that would be dedicated to schools. At the end of the day several of those items were a part of the final budget. Washington REALTORS® have long supported the idea of a Levy Swap since now former Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48) came to our Legislative Committee at a meeting in Suncadia to sell us on why it was the fairest, most balanced way to support quality education for our children, no matter what zip code they may live in. We have supported a Levy Swap ever since, and are pleased that it was part of the final budget. Additionally, collecting sales tax on online purchases levels the playing field between physical storefronts and online sales - the inclusion of this in the budget was a big win for our Commercial members - and kids across the state. Overall, $7.2 billion new State dollars will go into education over the next four years, funding smaller class sizes, increased pay for teachers, providing more up-to-date materials, more special education and gifted programs, and doing more to help children in high poverty areas of our state. This is a big win for schools, our children and quality communities.

Protecting Small Businesses Like Yours

At the same time we wanted to make sure that the brunt of paying for quality schools didn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of small businesses, like REALTORS®.  So, we went to work defeating proposals that would have made many small businesses, including REALTORS®, pay an extra 60% in B&O Tax. We also stopped a proposal to add a new 7.9% Capital Gains Tax that would discourage people to use real estate as a vehicle for retirement - at 7.9% Washington would have had the second highest effective rate in the country, second only to California. We also stopped a proposal to double the State Real Estate Excise Tax on certain properties. All big wins for small businesses - like yours - across the state.

Other Wins

We did not ignore important policy battles this session. We passed a bill to strengthen REALTORS® Independent Contractor status. We also worked on a bill that will bring new money to our communities as they deal with homelessness. SB 5254 is a major win for our communities - it requires real estate market based data be used when counties put together their buildable lands reports, extends the major fee that pays for helping the homeless for another four years, and allows cities and counties to use local Real Estate Excise Tax on homelessness prevention if they meet a few criteria. It was a very busy and bruising session. At the end of one of the longest sessions in state history the clear winners are our schools, our communities, and small businesses across the state - like yours.

None of that would be possible without your support. THANK YOU for being a member of the Washington Association of REALTORS®.


Margo Wheeler Willis
President, Washington REALTORS®

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