South Sound's newest Democratic lawmaker from Tumwater is keeping up his drum beat for reforming the state’s tax system. Rep. Chris Reykdal won re-election running on tax reform and reaffirmed it today as a top priority in his first e-mail newsletter to 22nd district voters.
The governor isn't too interested in tax increases and neither are minority Republicans. But Reykdal said lawmakers should consider closing tax breaks side by side with their consideration of spending cuts to close a $5 billion budget gap.
An excerpt of his message:
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Leaders of the Republican minorities in the House and Senate made clear in their meeting with reporters today that they don't see as much need for tax code changes – at least until majority Democrats move toward eliminating waste in the budget.
Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla said voters' message in November was clear against new taxes, and Hewitt warned that jobs could be lost if some tax breaks were eliminated.
House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis expressed much the same sentiment. But he did offer qualified support for closing some exemptions. "If it's benefiting an out of state (interest) or doesn't have nexus in our state to jobs, I think we've been very upfront – that we would help do away with them," DeBolt said.
It wasn't immediately clear which tax breaks DeBolt was referring to and few specific proposals for repeal are on the table. One that might conform to some of his criteria was a proposal last year to extend taxes to the mortgage interest earnings above $100 million for banks – namely out-of-state banks. But it failed to go far in the face of industry pressure.
Which is what typically happens to tax repeal proposals.
The other 22nd district House member, Democratic Rep. Sam Hunt of Olympia, has been in favor of tax reform for several years and, like Reykdal, favors an income tax. But his House web page highlights other topics, including environmental protection, that are his top priorities this session.
Go here for details about the 22nd district’s third lawmaker, Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County.