Inslee may embrace extending temporary taxes

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Thursday, January 17, 2013 2:55pm
  • Local News

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, on his first full day in office, 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 rejected the idea that by continuing the surcharge in the business and occupation tax for certain services and a beer tax 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 supposed to expire. Lawmakers approved the temporary hikes in 2010 to help plug a budget gap.

Keeping them in place could bring in around $650 million in the next two-year budget.

Inslee said a whole bunch more on the matter of these taxes. Here is a transcription of his comments.

I favor a good budget that we eventually will have that will be balanced that will move forward to the extent humanly possible on school funding and will not increase taxes as much as humanly possible.

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. We would not be increasing taxes for consumers in that regard. That’s something that as an economics major from the University of Washington is pretty clear to me and I think people will come to understand that over time.

I don’t want to foreclose the possibility of those being on the table for discussion. I am not proposing it right now. I think it’s something that people ultimately are probably are going to consider.

What I am saying is that those proposals, should we, in the fullness of time, conclude they’re necessary for satisfying the McCleary decision or having a balanced budget and I have not made that decision yet.

But should the Legislature reach that conclusion and I eventually agree with it, what I am going to do is tell the truth which is these do not increase taxes. They do not raise taxes on people over the existing level that in fact are being paid today. And 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.

Again, I want to reiterate I have not reached a conclusion that that’s a route people will have to go. But I do think it’s important not to foreclose them for legislators to consider.

As I said I am not proposing or supporting them today. What I am saying is I am not foreclosing them. Let me reiterate. I am not proposing or advocating to do that today but I want to make sure that I allow the legislators a room to discuss this potential.

More in Local News

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Jogger unharmed after fending off attacker in Edmonds

Police released video of a man they believe to be the attacker.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Three teens arrested for Marysville school vandalism

Windows were broken and a trash bin was on fire Sunday night at a Marysville middle school.

Langley mayor threatens newspaper with lawsuit

The mayor threatened to sue the paper over claims he withheld public records disclosure information.

Divers called to recover body after train hits pedestrian

The accident was reported by a BNSF crew near Woods Creek in Monroe.

Katharine Graham, then CEO and chairwoman of the board of The Washington Post Co., looks over a copy of The Daily Herald with Larry Hanson, then The Herald’s publisher, during her visit to Everett on Sept. 20, 1984. The Washington Post Co. owned The Herald from 1978 until 2013. (Herald archives)
A local connection to history

Retired Herald publisher Larry Hanson remembers The Post’s Katharine Graham, who visited several times.

Most Read