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Spin Control

Posts tagged: tax breaks

Budget deal released

OLYMPIA — A supplemental budget that raises no taxes, offers no new tax loopholes and provides no state-funded raises for teachers is expected to be pushed through the Legislature today on a fast track.

Budget negotiators unveiled their negotiated spending plan to the public at lunchtime, using words like “modest”, “stable” and “pretty small.”

It will send an extra $58 million to public schools around the state for books and supplies. It will spend an extra $25 million on Opportunity Scholarships for college students, $22 million on mental health services and $4 million to expand prison capacity.

But some items that prompted major political arguments over the last two months are not in the budget. There is no cost-of-living adjustment for public school teachers, something Democrats in both chambers said they wanted. There are no new taxes, or increases of existing taxes, that would have paid for those raises. There are no major new or extended tax exemptions, which were supported by Republicans.

It is a traditional supplemental budget, legislators said, making small adjustments in the two-year spending plan approved in 2013 after two extensions to that legislative session. It is unlike recent supplemental budgets, which were essentially rewrites of previous spending plans made inoperable because of changing revenue estimates in the recession.

And it leaves until next year a  major fight over public schools, which the Legislature is under a state Supreme Court mandate to improve. The Legislature will need to come up with at least $2.2 billion for school programs, and perhaps another $1 billion for school employee wages, for the 2015-17 biennium to satisfy that court order. 

The budget is scheduled to be put to a vote in the House late this afternoon and be sent to the Senate for a vote later in the evening. That means the Legislature will suspend several rules that allow time for the public to see legislation, and for members to read and consider it.

 

WA Lege Day 44: Senate Dems offer education tax package

OLYMPIA — A day after some of their members showed support for a no new taxes budget “update” with few changes to existing state spending plans, Senate Democrats unveiled a more ambitious, and politically difficult — proposal to end four tax breaks and raise $100 million for schools.

Their hope: in the 16 days left in the session — or some time before an April 30 deadline to tell the state Supreme Court how the Legislature plans to improve state schools — they can get both houses to settle on this plan or something close to it. They'd give teachers a cost-of-living raise, give schools more money for books, labs and heating bills, speed up the move to all-day kindergarten and shrink the size of Second Grade classes in high poverty areas. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog. 

 

Inslee: Boeing contract is ‘jobs for decades’

Gov. Jay Inslee says union members should consider contract in 'cool light of day.”

OLYMPIA — With Boeing machinists reportedly unhappy with a proposed union contract, Gov. Jay Inslee tried today to keep the momentum going for a legislative package tied to securing a new jetliner.

Inslee wouldn't go as far as asking union members to ratify the contract. But at a press conference in the halls of the Capitol building, he urged them to “look at it in the cool light of day” and consider that it represented “assurance of jobs for you, and your family and your community for decades.”

The Seattle Times reported this morning that rank-and-file union machinists at a meeting Thursday night were vocally unhappy with the contract, which freezes pensions at their current level and replaces a defined benefit plan with contributions to worker's retirement savings accounts. One of their leaders, Tom Wroblewski, who earlier this week stood with Inslee when the governor called for a special session, tore it up in front of his members and called it “a piece of crap”, the Times reported.

Inslee called legislators back to Olympia to pass legislation that would accompany the contract and ensure that the 777X would be built in Washington state. Union members aren't scheduled to vote on the contract until Wednesday; the Legislature could vote on a package of tax breaks worth some $8.9 billion through 2040, as well as expanded training programs for aerospace workers, as early as tomorrow.

If the machinists don't ratify a contract and the Legislature does not approve the tax breaks and training programs, Boeing will have offers to build the 777X elsewhere.

“People want to poach these  jobs…if in fact the deal doesn't go through this week,” Inslee said.

Inslee: Extend temporary taxes, close loopholes to spend more on schools

Gov. Jay Inslee explains his budget as students from Seattle's Cleveland High School look on.

OLYMPIA — The state should make temporary tax increases on beer and some business services permanent, cancel a variety of other tax breaks and spend an extra $1.2 billion on public schools, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday.

Standing in front of a group of Seattle high school students involved in a program to boost science and math skills, the governor released his first budget proposal. It’s a plan for expanded programs from pre-kindergarten to high school, designed to satisfy a state Supreme Court order to adequately fund public schools.

“We must do hard things. It’s the right thing to choose education over these tax breaks,” he said at a press conference to announce his spending plan for the 2013-15 budget cycle.

The proposal met quick resistance from Senate Republicans, who will likely release the first full budget in the Legislature next week. It will not propose tax increases or ending the tax exemptions Inslee proposed, Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, the Senate Republican leader, said. . .

 To continue reading about the budget propsal, and reaction, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Tax breaks don’t change with the times

OLYMPIA — The Legislature should take a look at tax breaks for insurance agents and travel agents, for high tech manufacturers and bio-tech manufacturers, for folks who load big ships and folks who catch certain kinds of fish, a House committee was told Monday.

Some of them may not be stimulating the economy or creating or protect jobs as the Legislature intended when they were granted five, 10, or more than 70 years ago.

But that's hard to tell, representatives of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee told the House Finance Committee, because in many cases the Legislature didn't set down in law what it expected. The commission reviewed about three dozen tax credits, exemptions or special rates last year, and about a dozen should at least be clarified so researchers can tell if they're working as intended, an auditor said. A citizen commission said some of those should be eliminated, although legislators who sit on the review committee disagreed.

When questions arise about the jobs a tax incentive provides, it gets difficult to determine how many that are attributed to the tax break wouldn't have been created without it, John Woolley of the auditing staff said it.

Special Session 3.0: Senate passes tax bill

OLYMPIA — A plan to end a tax exemption for large banks and extend tax breaks for some other businesses passed the Senate over objections from some of the chambers more conservative Republicans and more liberal Democrats.

The bill, which removes an exemption for large banks for first mortgages, required a two-thirds majority because it is a tax increase. Some senators tried to split that out from the revised tax exemptions for newspapers, food processing operations and server farms, which by themselves only require a simple majority.

“This is a bad precedent (mixing) tax breaks for some and tax increases for others,” Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, argued. “I assure you this will find its way to the courts.”

But the bill passed 35-10, two votes over the required super majority.

Among Spokane-area senators, Mike Baumgartner and Lisa Brown voted yes, Mike Padden and Mark Schoesler voted no. Bob Morton was excused.

Sunday Spin: Could we tax the bad movies more?

OLYMPIA – The Senate agreed last week to extend tax breaks for film companies that shoot movies and TV shows in Washington.

That makes economic sense, considering a movie being shot in Spokane generates jobs as well as a certain amount of buzz that can’t be measured in monetary terms but definitely boosts community spirits.

Spotting stars like Samuel L. Jackson or Cuba Gooding Jr. at downtown hotels, bars and coffee shops is great sport. Even the most jaded among us can’t resist watching a locally shot production like The Basket and telling out-of-town friends and relatives:  “Well you know, the climactic basketball game is actually played…” **
  

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Special Session Day 9: Tax breaks assailed, defended

OLYMPIA – From frozen bull semen and chicken bedding to big banks’ mortgage profits, Senate Democrats took aim at the state’s system of tax breaks for businesses Wednesday.



They generated support from people who don’t want the Legislature to close the projected $5.1 billion gap in the state budget solely with cuts, including the Service Employees International Union, the American Association of Retired Persons and the Our Economic Future Coalition.

They generated opposition from the business owners who said they need the various tax credits, exemptions and preferences to stay afloat, including the state Retailers Association, Farm Bureau and Association for Washington Business.

And sometimes, the Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing generated chuckles or applause from an overflow crowd as members tried to sort through three different bills on tax breaks…

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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