More taxes needed for schools, but that’s where agreement ends

OLYMPIA — This may surprise you, but one thing legislative leaders and the governor agree on is that new taxes are needed to help cover the state’s unpaid tab for public schools.

But they disagree sharply on who among us should pay more.

They all want the financial burden of added taxes to be shared in a fair fashion and they’ll spend the rest of the legislative session figuring out how to do that.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee thinks wealthy families, carbon-emitting corporations and a batch of service businesses should foot the multibillion-dollar bill to get the state right with the Constitution and the state Supreme Court.

He would impose taxes on the capital gains of 46,000 wealthy people and the carbon emissions of 1,500 firms, including oil refineries and public utility districts. And he would hike the tax rate for 170,000 service businesses including lawyers, Realtors, janitors and landscapers.

Republican senators think the money should come primarily from owners of homes and businesses in Washington’s priciest ZIP codes. They included a new statewide property tax in the school funding plan passed by the GOP-controlled Senate earlier this month.

Majority Democrats in the House are still to be heard from. Caucus leaders say they won’t pursue a sales tax hike or traditional income tax. They are eyeing what the GOP and governor put forth plus other money-generating moves such as axing the 1 percent cap on raising property taxes.

Inslee isn’t waiting for House Democrats to get the debate rolling. He used a meeting with reporters last week to argue the Senate approach is unfair.

Relying on an analysis prepared by his budget office, the governor said the GOP plan would result in a $513 million tax hike on a third of Washington residents to pay for a roughly $403 million tax cut for property owners in the rest of the state. That doesn’t leave much for schools, he said.

He cited predictions of a $321 increase for the average homeowner in Cle Elum and $456 for homeowners in Issaquah in 2019. That’s the first year the full Republican property tax would be in effect.

The analysis also showed property taxes going up in school districts in Seattle, Bellevue, Mercer Island, San Juan Island and the governor’s hometown of Bainbridge Island. Dollars generated from Seattle and Bellevue alone would account for 60 percent of the new revenue envisioned in the GOP plan.

“We’ll have to have a discussion whether people in Issaquah, people in Cle Elum or people in any of those other places in the state think that’s the best way to address this issue,” he said. “We kind of love all Washingtonians. No matter where you live. No matter what your economic circumstances are.”

Inslee’s plan also would generate tax cuts. In his case, a portion of new taxes collected from the rich and the polluters would go to reduce tax burden of owners of homes and businesses in those same pricey zip codes.

Seattle, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Issaquah, San Juan Island and Bainbridge Island are among 119 school districts where property taxes would go down under the governor’s approach.

In Seattle, for example, the bill for the average homeowner would go down $205 under the governor’s plan and up $628 with the Republican approach, based on analyses prepared by the Office of Financial Management.

On Mercer Island, where the average home price hovers around $1.2 million, taxes would dip $492 under Inslee’s plan and rise $1,302 with the Republicans’ levy. There would be tax cuts of $243 in Bellevue and $107 in Bainbridge Island with Inslee’s plan, and tax hikes of $939 and $488 respectively with the GOP proposal.

There’s going to be lots of discussion on what approach is most fair.

That’s another thing legislative leaders and the governor agree on these days.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com and on Twitter at @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A car breaks and waits for traffic to pass before turning onto 123rd Avenue on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Can roundabouts, lower speed limit make 84th Street NE safer?

Maybe, but transportation and disability advocates want design features to make crossing safe.

Two brother bear cubs, burned in a fire last summer, were recently reunited at PAWS in Lynnwood. (PAWS) 20211129
Bear cubs, burned in wildfires, reunited in viral video in Lynnwood

The brother cubs are being treated at PAWS Wildlife Center. They were injured in a wildfire near Lake Chelan.

Madison is one of three aging elementary schools that would be torn down and replaced if the Everett schools bond is passed next year. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Everett school leaders have 2 big levies on February ballot

The district is asking voters to renew a levy for programs and operations, and to pass a $325 million capital and tech levy.

Everett officials have questions about a 125-room hotel shelter

City Council members say they weren’t aware of the county’s proposal until it made headlines.

A fatal crash prompted closure of West Mukilteo Boulevard between Forest Park and Dogwood Drive Friday afternoon. (Everett Police Department) 20211126
2 identified in deadly T-bone crash in Everett

Otila Retel Azanedo de Jones, 67, and William Jones, 85, died at the scene.

Reagan Dunn to take on U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier in 8th District

The Republican is challenging incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier in a district which could include a slice of Snohomish County.

A man died after he was found with gunshot wounds Saturday in downtown Everett. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Man dead after shooting in downtown Everett

The man, believed to be in his 40s, was found near California Street and Rockefeller Avenue.

Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of Puget Sound-based Carrier Strike Group 11, in Bremerton on Nov. 23, 2021. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin McTaggart)
From Everett, this rear admiral commands a Navy strike group

Christopher Sweeney leads Carrier Strike Group 11, a force of aircraft and ships stretching from here to San Diego.

A rainbow appears in front of Andy Huestis and his girlfriend Alisha Garvin as they and other families gather to remember the victims on the third anniversary of the Oso mudslide on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Oso, Wa. Huestis' sister, Christina Jefferds, and her baby granddaughter, Sanoah Violet Huestis, were among the 43 people killed in the mudslide.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Funding secured: Mudslide memorial will be a place to remember

Since 2014, families have mourned at a roadside shrine near Oso, but “we knew we needed something bigger.”

Most Read