The Washington Legislature will begin a 30-day special session Wednesday to negotiate a 2015-2017 budget. Even as legislators try to resolve their differences on the budget for general state spending, they also face big financial issues in negotiations on a massive package of transportation construction and improvement projects.
Our main objective when writing this budget was not to spend a specific dollar amount nor increase taxes — it was to provide the services people expect and deserve from state government without calling on families and businesses to send Olympia more money. When the state is collecting $37 billion over the next two years — that’s $3 billion more than the current budget — citizens expect us to govern with what we have.
It is clear to us that we need more revenue to adequately fund an operating budget that takes care of our state’s needs and the workers who provide these essential services. There are a number of revenue options on the table — capital gains, B&O tax reform, closing tax loopholes, and a carbon fee — to name just a few.
Among other things, the McIntire plan would institute a 5 percent personal-income tax with some exemptions, eliminate the state property tax and reduce business taxes. McIntire argued that an overhaul is necessary because the state’s current tax structure has caused the tax base to shrink over the past few decades. A Constitutional amendment would also establish a three-fifths majority-vote requirement in the Legislature to change taxes.