Here is the video that seems to be at the heart of the latest wave of Gregoire-wants-an-income-tax campaign ads. They cite The Spokesman-Review, especially Gregoire’s comments in an editorial-board meeting last year. The video above is an unedited clip of the income-tax discussion during that meeting.
I posted excerpts below, but I’d encourage you to watch the actual video. Contrary to what the campaign ads suggest, you won’t see Gregoire pounding the table for an income tax. She seems to support the idea, yes, but only as a long-term reform that requires far more political support than it has today. She also seems to want to couple it with decreases in other taxes and an elimination of the state’s business and occupations tax.
Interestingly, when an editorial writer floats the idea that perhaps elected officials need to be beating the drum for an income tax, Gregoire suggests that it would be a waste of time. Gov. Booth Gardner pushed the idea hard, she says, “and it fell flatter than a pancake.”
The route to tax reform — including a state income tax — she suggests, is by gradually convincing voters that the state’s taxes are regressive and that the changes are a good idea.
See for yourself:
The question was “Is there ever a time for an income tax” in Washington.
Gregoire notes how legislation often takes years to get through Olympia, and says there have been some hearings held on the issue.
The concept is being introduced for discussion purposes,” Gregoire says. “We don’t have an electorate out there that will support it right now. Clearly when I go across the state, the support’s not there.”
A key, she suggests, is educating voters about Washington’s regressive tax structure.
“So much of it is how we’re going to educate them to the regressive tax system that we have in the state and how we need to have some sort of conversion over to a partial income tax,” Gregoire said. (This sentence is one of two that was shortened for use in a anti-Gregoire TV ad this week.)
“Now’s not the time, I can tell you, because the electorate isn’t there,” she continues. “The hearings were had. It just isn’t the time. But it’s not as if it’s not a good idea. It’s not as if it’s not one that we should pursue. It’s one that we just have to keep holding hearings and let time pass and eventually I assume we’re going to get there.”
There’s some discussion from one of our editorial writers, Doug Floyd, of other legislation, like a gay-rights law, that took 20 years of attempts before passing.
“It grew its own acceptance in the public at large and that’s why the window occurred, and we took the action once that window seemed to be there,” Gregoire said of the gay-rights bill.
“My point is that the people were pushing for it,” Floyd says, “and I’m wondering if there needs to be somebody to push for tax reform.”
“But you have had that,” Gregoire responds. “I’ll tell you, ‘cause I was in his cabinet: (Gov.) Booth (Gardner) did a dramatic push — and it fell flatter than a pancake.”
“It isn’t as if this isn’t a new idea and it hasn’t been pursued historically,” Gregoire said of the income tax. “Its time will come, but its time has yet to come. It’s one of those issues that we have to continue to constantly have a dialogue about, but right now, that Legislature is in fact a citizen Legislature. And I don’t see the votes…in either the Senate or the House.”
UPDATE (Oct. 27, 10:35 a.m.): Rossi spokeswoman Jill Strait says the point is Gregoire’s denials:
“The bigger issue here now is that Christine Gregoire is running TV ads claiming she has NEVER supported a state income tax. This is 100 percent not true…Why is she running TV ads that say the exact opposite? The question at hand is whether or not she supports a state income tax. And the answer is yes, but she is amazingly now trying to deny it.”
“…The incumbent has been caught in a blatant lie when she says she has never supported a state income tax. She clearly does support such a tax, she just won’t say so when it’s campaign season.”
Here are videos of Gregoire saying she doesn’t support such a tax and never has:
Lastly, here’s how The Associated Press’ Curt Woodward put it in a recent story:
“Gregoire has said an income tax is an idea worth examining, but adds that Washingtonians clearly don’t want to adopt one. Gregoire has not directly pushed a state income tax as a policy matter.”