The assault on Washington's so-called state tax loopholes is taking form at the Legislature. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle moved ahead today with a proposal to close tax exemptions to the tune of potentially $8 billion over the next eight years.
Senate Bill 5857, as our news partner Jordan Schrader at The News Tribune noted in this blog post:
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5857, is working with Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, who has been examining the issue for months, to bring greater transparency to the flow of state dollars by gradually eliminating tax breaks and making review of tax exemptions part of the biennial budget-writing process. "Now is the time for reform not only of our spending, but of our tax policies," Rep. Carlyle said. "Tax exemptions should be forced to go through the process of representative democracy once in a while, just as spending decisions are made every two years in our state budget. It's not about raising taxes or lowering taxes, it’s about the courage to be philosophically consistent in how we tackle tough budget challenges."
Republicans are not opposed to closing all tax-exemptions, according to Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla. The exemptions need to prove their worth, and closing them must not kill off jobs or endanger Washington businesses, he said recently.
Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business, also said this week that AWB is open to discussions about closing exemptions that are not worthy.
And here is a letter Brunell sent on the topic Wednesday to United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 after labor activists charged into AWB's lobby this week. Protesters were asking AWB AWB to support closing certain tax incentives or preferences such as bank interest earnings and cosmetic plastic surgery.
[It turns out AWB called police; no word yet on the outcome of that complaint.]
Here is what Kohl-Welles said today about her bill and proposals to link tax breaks to the budget process itself.
Links to a few recent stories about labor-backed efforts to push for closing so-called tax loopholes are here , here , here and here.