Gregoire welcomes income tax initiative, may vote for it

  • Jerry Cornfield
  • Friday, April 23, 2010 3:51pm
  • Local News

Gov. Chris Gregoire said today she will sign a petition to help put Initiative 1077 on the ballot and, if it qualifies, likely vote for it.

The proposed initiative calls for taxing incomes of people who earn more than $200,000 a year or couples with a joint income in excess of $400,000. It also calls for reducing the state’s portion of the property tax by 20 percent and eliminating the B&O tax on roughly 80 percent of all small businesses in Washington.

Here are excerpts of her comments:

“I will sign the petition because I really do think it’s time for us to have a good discussion in the state of Washington about how are we going to fund education. Everybody says we need more money and we should spend more money on education. How are we going to do that?

“I hope this allows us to have that discussion and I hear all the time about an income tax so let’s have that debate. Let’s have it, let’s be thoughtful about it. I think it’s healthy for the state of Washington to have the debate.

“I suspect in the end that I am going to support it because candidly I have to say I don’t see another avenue to provide the kind of funding for education that we need.”

Q: So you support an income tax for the state of Washington?

A: I didn’t say that.

“Let’s have the debate because I think it will draw out a lot of things that I know of but a lot of things that I probably don’t know about. I have historically opposed an income tax. This is a different kind of income tax than anything that I’ve ever thought of in the past.

It steps up to the responsibility of the state to fund K-12. And if somebody’s got a better idea than boy I’d sure like to hear it.”

Gregoire discussed the initiative with reporters after signing two laws that will account for nearly $800 million in tax revenues in this budget. Those laws call for higher taxes on cigarettes, candy, gum, soda pop, bottled water, beer and a higher tax rate on professional service businesses.

A $1 per pack increase on cigarettes and the boost in the business and occupation tax rate for professional services take effect May 1. The other increases come online in June and July.

House Speaker Frank Chopp and the Washington Beverage Association did ask her to veto the soda pop tax of two cents per 12-ounce can but Gregoire declined.

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