Critics of proposal to raise property taxes call it the 'largest in state history' if fully implemented

The controversial debate over raising property taxes in Washington continues to gear up in Olympia. 

Senate bill 5770 was expected to come up for a floor vote on Thursday. Ahead of that vote, Republican senators held a press conference speaking out against it.

"The tone deafness of the Democratic-controlled legislature is out of control," said Sen. Drew MacEwen (R-35).

Several citizens showed up to speak, including one retired firefighter who said he lives on a fixed income and could not afford property taxes going up even more than they are. Another woman said increased property taxes will hurt first-time home buyers, making it more expensive to afford the American dream.

"I have two out of three daughters who cannot afford a home, and they are in their thirties," said Thurston County resident Christina Janis.

Some say it will hurt people already struggling with high inflation.

"[It] disproportionally hurts folks who are on the lower end of the income scale, folks who are making it paycheck to paycheck," said Sen. John Braun (R-20). 

Sen. Jamie Pedersen, who represents Seattle, is the main sponsor of SB 5770.

FOX 13 requested an interview with Pedersen, but his office said he was not available on Thursday because of his obligations on the floor.

As it stands now, the bill wants to give local governments the authority to raise property taxes.

A 2001 voter initiative shackled the government from raising property taxes more than 1% year over year.

Pedersen’s bill wants to raise that 1% to up to 3%.

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"It ends up being the largest property tax increase in our history if it’s fully implemented," Braun said.

Braun says an analysis shows that after 10 years, it would be a $6 billion tax increase.

"We have Democrats who say they are against regressive taxes, but here we have 19 Democratic Senators signed up for this bill," Senator Chris Gildon (R-25) said.

Supporters of the measure believe county governments need more money to pay for services and to beef up things like public safety.

"They will talk to you about government has to do this because local government doesn’t have the funding ability for the services they require, [it's] fundamentally untrue," Braun said.

Braun says, on average, budgets have grown for county governments.

"Over the last 10 years, it has grown, on average, by 82%. City government has grown by 72%. The truth is, they don’t need more money-- they have a spending problem," Braun said.

For most of Thursday, SB 5770 was expected to come up for a floor vote. But by Thursday evening, sources told FOX 13 News that few lawmakers had pulled their names off the bill and it was unclear where the bill stands.

FOX 13 will continue to follow any developments on this measure.