Gov. Inslee says extending taxes not an increase

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee, on his first full day in office Thursday, said he may support extending two taxes set to expire in June if it helps balance the budget or satisfy a court order to better fund public schools.

And Inslee, a Democrat, rejected the idea that by continuing a tax on beer and a surcharge in the business and occupation tax for certain services that he is violating a campaign pledge to not increase taxes.

“I do not believe we would be increasing taxes if we extend the existing tax rates in that regard. And the reason I believe that is it’s true,” he said at a news conference.

“They do not raise taxes on people over the existing level that in fact are being paid today,” he said. “Since they do not increase taxes, they’re not a tax increase. That’s a numerical, mathematical conclusion that Huskies and Cougars, no matter where you went to school, can agree with on a mathematical basis.”

Jason Mercier, director of the Center for Government Reform of the Washington Policy Center, disagreed.

“Under state law, breaking the promise to sunset those temporary tax increases would qualify as a tax increase and trigger the protections of the state’s supermajority for taxes law,” he wrote in an email.

“While the governor did not officially commit to breaking the promise made to those currently subject to these ‘temporary tax increases,’ extending them would qualify as a tax increase under the law and run afoul of what the voters were promised,” he wrote.

On June 30, a 0.3 percent increase to the business and occupation tax paid by lawyers, accountants and others and a 50-cent-per-gallon tax on beer are scheduled to expire. Lawmakers approved the temporary increases in 2010 to help plug a budget gap.

Keeping them in place could bring in around $635 million in the next two-year budget.

Former Gov. Chris Gregoire called for extending the taxes in her final budget proposal which went to lawmakers in December.

She also proposed higher taxes on gas, soft drinks, candy and gum in order to fill a projected $900 million deficit and avoid further spending cuts by state agencies.

Inslee last month did not embrace any of the revenue ideas.

“Gov. Gregoire’s budget reflects the seriousness of the challenges ahead and Gov.-elect Inslee appreciates her thoughtful effort and determination to address Washington’s fiscal reality,” he said in a prepared statement at the time. “The upcoming legislative session, Gov.-elect Inslee will lay out his own budget priorities that reflect his vision for state government and his commitment to create a lasting economic recovery with secure jobs for Washington’s middle-class.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Foundation awards grants to Arlington schools

The Arlington Education Foundation on Nov. 13 presented a check to the… Continue reading

Snohomish County firefighters head to California for 18 days

They’re from Fire District 26 in Gold Bar, Getchell Fire and Fire District 7.

State commission reprimands Snohomish County judge for DUI

Judge Marybeth Dingledy had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a day in jail.

Driver arrested after car strikes pedestrian in Everett

The pedestrian was crossing the road near 12th Street and Broadway. He was injured.

Active Casino Road volunteer honored for work

Molina Healthcare recently honored Jorge Galindo, from Everett, as one of its… Continue reading

Over $12K raised to InspireHER

InspireHER, a local organization that encourages female empowerment, raised over $12,000 at… Continue reading

Most Read