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OLYMPIA — The House omnibus tax bill gets a hearing this morning in the Finance Committee, playing to a full room of folks explaining why a tax increase on their particular industry is a bad idea, and folks explaining why more taxes in general is a good idea.
One of the industries in the tax bill, the beer industry, will sponsor a Defend Washington Beer rally on the North Capitol steps at noon. Large breweries are facing an extension of what was supposed to be a temporary tax, albeit at a smaller rate while microbreweries, which were exempted from the surtax in 2011, would have one levied on them.
A children's steel drum Calypso band will be playing just inside in the Capitol Rotunda, so it should be a festive time.
This afternoon the House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on an $8 billion-plus tax package for new road projects and improved maintenance. It would raise the gasoline tax as well as give local governments the ability to raise license tabs.
OLYMPIA – A proposal to raise the state’s gasoline tax by 2 cents per year for five years and impose or hike other taxes would provide some $420 million for further work on the North Spokane Corridor.
The long-running road construction project – sometimes called the North-South Freeway – is one of five designated statewide “impact” projects in the Connecting Washington package proposed Wednesday by House Democrats, and the only one in the Spokane area. . .
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OLYMPIA — A major transportation plan will be unveiled Wednesday that features 2-cent per year increases in the state's gasoline tax.
The proposal, from House Transportation Committee Chairman Judy Clibborn, will divide the money between new projects and maintenance and eventually raise the state's gas tax by a total of 10 cents.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who has said he wants a transportation package that would both build new projects and fix some of its crumbling infrastructure, refused to endorse it Tuesday, saying only that it is “a good start on that discussion.”
Inslee named a new transportation secretary as one of three cabinet-level appointments, selecting Lynn Peterson, who is currently a transportation advisor to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.
House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said majority Democrats in that chamber view the projects the tax increase would support as a jobs package, and said the plan will set aside significant amounts for maintenance. Previous gasoline tax packages have been criticized as emphasizing new mega projects and not leaving enough for ongoing road repairs.
Chopp said it was too early to say what the exact split would be, or the prospects to pass such a plan in the House. “It's just a concept paper at this point.”
Another unknown: what type of majority such a plan will need. The state Supreme Court is deliberating on the constitutionality of voter-passed laws for a two-thirds supermajority on any tax increase.
If that standard is upheld, “it's going to be extremely difficult” to pass that type of tax increase in the Legislature, Inslee said. That would mean voters would have to approve it in the November election.
Early last week, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Baumgartner may have raised some eyebrows by endorsing I-502, the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for adults in Washington. Later in the week he offered up another surprise.
He backed a tax increase. Seriously. A Republican. Not making this up.
Baumgartner said he would support a 1 cent per gallon tax on gasoline, provided the money went to a special fund for veterans care. The Spokane Republican made the statement after a visit to Joint Base Lewis McChord’s Madigan Medical Center, and said would help ensure returning troops get the care they need.
“Equally important, this small tax will remind each and every American every time they fill up at the pump there is still a war going on with nearly 70,000 troops in harm’s way,” he said. “War isn’t free.”
With the way the price of gas fluctuates these days, drivers might not notice an extra penny. But the no-new-tax crowd probably would. He may get a nasty-gram from them.
Maybe he’ll get a chance to talk about it later this week in the one debate he has scheduled with Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell. That debate will air Oct. 16 on KSPS-TV.
That's what the Tax Foundation says, anyway.
Washington's 37.5 cents per gallon tax on gasoline ranks behind:
California (46.6 cents), New York (44.6 cents), Hawaii (44.4 cents), Connecticut (41.9 cents) and Illinois (39 cents), the foundation reported last year.
Idaho and Oregon are tied for 21st, with a 25 cents per gallon tax. Lowest state gas tax of 8 cents per gallon is in Alaska.
In case the previous post had you wondering.