Gov. Chris Gregoire plans to propose tax cuts as well as tax increases tomorrow when she makes her State of the State address.
Speaking at an impromptu press conference about three hours before the Legislature formally opens, Gregoire repeated she will propose closing some as yet unspecified “tax loopholes”, but also used the word “tax relief.”
When a reporter noted tax relief usually means reductions in taxes, she replied: “I will be proposing that as well…I want find a way incentivize business.”
Gregoire spoke after receiving petitions from the Rebuilding Our Economic Future Coalition, a group of social services organizations, environmentalists and some labor unions, opposed to her December budget, which would close a $2.6 billion budget gap solely by cutting programs, not by raising taxes.
The level of tax increases and budget cuts will depend partly on the amount of money federal stimulus money approved by Congress, she said.
As Gregoire met with members of the coalition and talked with reporters, preparations for the noon start of the Legislature continued throughout the building. An honor guard practiced its maneuvers for delivering flags to the front of the House chamber and pages and interns scurried around the chambers.
At 10 a.m., initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman is scheduled to file this year’s initiative proposal at the Secretary of State’s office, a measure to reinstate the two-thirds majority for tax increases that voters passed in 2007 with I-960. That law remains in effect, although legislative Democrats have said they will try to repeal or amend it early this session in advance of proposing tax increases.
Asked about Eyman’s scheduled appearance down the hall in less than an hour, Gregoire said the continued use of inititatives could lead to putting Washington in the same straits as California.
“They have been initiatived to death,” Gregoire said of California. If Eyman wants to help make state policy, he should take another tack, she added:
“Come on down and run for election. Otherwise, leave it to us.”