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Gregoire says her state’s best for business

Citing Forbes rating, governor disputes Otter claim

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire jabbed back at her Idaho counterpart Tuesday over whose state is better for business.

Washington got a better rating in Forbes Magazine for being business-friendly and doesn’t have a personal or corporate income tax, Gregoire, a Democrat, said during a news conference.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, a Republican, began this exercise in gubernatorial smack talk Monday, posting a “love letter” to businesses in Washington and Oregon. He invited them to move to his state to avoid taxes that voters raised in the latter and which the Legislature is likely to raise in the former.

In Washington, both the House and Senate have passed bills raising taxes and dropping some incentives for businesses, although the two proposals have vast differences in the types of taxes, and significant disagreement on the amount to raise. This may cause them to miss Thursday’s deadline for ending the short session.

Idaho has a nice, stable tax system, Otter wrote: “Predictable tax and regulatory policies are what our employers need in order to maintain their operations through this rough patch.”

Gregoire’s rejoinder: “We’re second-best in Forbes, they went from seventh to 11th.” And while she professed to not being an expert on Idaho, she said she was pretty sure they had taxes Washington doesn’t, such as the corporate profits tax and a graduated income tax.

She didn’t mention one tax Washington has but Idaho doesn’t: the business and occupation tax on gross receipts.

She said she hadn’t talked to Otter about his letter. “I have a call in to him today,” she said Tuesday.

Trying to recruit businesses from another state is “fair game,” but suggesting there’s a massive tax increase going on in Washington is not, Gregoire said.

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