State House Democrats Propose Raising $1.3 Billion Through Taxes

By Andrew Garber, April 10, 2013, Seattle Times

House Democrats set the high bar for state spending in a proposed budget released Wednesday that would raise roughly $1.3 billion in additional tax revenue and plow the same amount into K-12 education to comply with a state Supreme Court mandate.

Overall, the House proposal would spend about $34.5 billion. By comparison, Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed a $34.4 billion spending plan and Senate Republicans, $33.3 billion. The GOP budget is the only one that does not include additional money from taxes.

The House Democrats’ proposal is similar to Inslee’s in the mix of tax breaks it would close, including repealing tax exemptions for bottled water and the sales tax exemption for people living outside the state.

Their budget also would extend the current tax on beer, but reduce it from 50 cents to 25 cents per gallon for mass market beer and charge microbreweries a rate of 15 cents per gallon. And it would extend a 0.3 percent increase to the business-and-occupation tax paid by doctors, lawyers, accountants and others.

All those taxes are due to expire this summer.

The House budget would shift more than $700 million into the state general fund from reserves and other accounts.

“This is an honest, straight forward budget that meets our constitutional obligation to our schools,” House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter said in a statement.

The House budget would put an additional $1.3 billion into K-12 education to meet court demands for more funding. Inslee’s proposal allocated $1.2 billion and the Senate GOP proposal includes $1 billion.

Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, criticized the Democrats’ budget saying it “looks very much like what we’ve seen the last few years from the majority party in Olympia: a budget created in the vacuum of Seattle-centric special interests with little to no regard for the voters of this state who have said time and time again that they want state government to live within its means.”

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