House Democrats to unveil budget and maybe tax plans too

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Tuesday, March 24, 2015 4:29pm
  • Local News

Majority Democrats in the state House will release their budget proposal Friday and it may include two new taxes to help cover the costs.

Democrats are leaning toward creation of a new capital gains tax and charge on carbon emissions to provide additional dollars for public schools, early learning, colleges, and mental health services in the next state budget.

They also are seriously weighing a 0.3 percent boost in the business and occupation tax paid by thousands of companies as a third source of new revenue.

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, will release the budget plan at 11:30 a.m. He will be joined by Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, who is chairman of the House Finance Committee.

State lawmakers are working on a two-year budget that begins July 1.

Washington is now projected to collect $36.5 billion in taxes and fees in the 2015-17 biennium.

Democrats have said they’ll need more than that to satisfy court rulings on school funding and mental health services and to make headway on a voters’ directive for smaller class sizes.

The three tax measures Democrats are mulling could generate up to $2.6 billion dollars in the next 2015-17 budget cycle, based on estimates from the Office of Financial Management and Department of Revenue.

The appropriations committee will hold a hearing on the budget bill at 1:30 p.m. Friday and could act on it Saturday. A vote by the full House could come as early as Tuesday March 31.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate said Tuesday they’re concerned Democrats will act on the budget but not any tax bills required to pay for it. That, they said, would not be responsible if the House is serious about negotiating a budget deal by the scheduled end of session next month.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said Tuesday that the GOP is “well positioned” to move its budget once the House acts.

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