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Panel OKs tax increase reform

Tue., Feb. 9, 2010

Senate will debate delaying supermajority requirement

OLYMPIA – A plan that would make it easier to raise taxes cleared a key Senate panel Monday and is ready for its first full floor debate.

Republicans on the Senate Ways and Means Committee unsuccessfully sought to blunt Senate Bill 6843, which suspends until 2011 the voter-approved requirement that tax increases receive two-thirds approval by state lawmakers.

If signed into law, it would allow the Legislature to increase taxes with just a simple majority.

State Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, said an amendment to restrict the supermajority suspension to the current legislative session was only “a middle ground.” If the economy is still bad next year, he said the Legislature could take up another extension then.

But state Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said there would be more economic forecasts after the Legislature adjourns this year but before it returns next January and “we need the flexibility this would provide.”

Republicans failed to limit the suspension to the current session, being outvoted 8-13 on a party line vote. Amendments to restrict changes to tax exemptions and shift tax money from a dedicated use to the general fund also failed.

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