A sales tax is out, soda pop is in and an elusive agreement may be within grasp for lawmakers tonight.
And a possible political battle down the road. More about that in a minute.
Senate Democrats today dropped their contentious proposal to raise the sales tax and House Democrats discarded their insistence for ending certain tax breaks for banks, buyers of custom software and out-of-state residents.
Those actions cleared a path to a possible agreement on an $801 million tax package dubbed the “Go Home Proposal.” I’ve attached a copy of the highlights.
As you will see it would boost taxes on businesses and prices of beer, candy, gum and bottled water. It also has a new tax of 2 cents per 12-ounce can of soda pop and counts on money from a new lottery marketing proposal.
Leaders of the majority party counted votes Wednesday. House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown met with Gov. Chris Gregoire in the afternoon and shortly after 5 p.m. the two lawmakers snuck out a back door to avoid the press.
That’s OK, we all knew what was going on. With e-mails and phone calls, they were polling their members. Not everyone got a direct call and that’s why it’s too soon to call it a done deal.
Chopp and Brown expect to announce results of the polling Thursday.
Here’s one tip-off of a deal: At 9:55 a.m., in the pro forma House session, a conference committee for the revenue bill could be created to turn one piece of paper into a striking amendment.
About that political conflict.
The Washington Beverage Association detests the soda pop tax. Its members have succeeded in keeping it off the table because lawmakers fear they will try to repeal it via the ballot. Remember, the association members have names like Pepsi and Coke which translates to dollars and cents in politics.
While too soon to launch a referendum it’s not to soon to launch a public campaign against the tax.
If you listened to the Mariners game on the radio tonight, you might have heard one of the four ads run by the group. Ads will be airing on stations statewide Thursday.
“We are going to do anything and everything that it takes to try and fight this thing. It is a serious threat to our industry,” association president Tim Martin, owner of bottling operation in Elma, told me tonight.