It just wouldn’t be a legislative session without an attack on ‘Big Oil’ – or rather, an attempt to reach deeper into the pocket of the industry that green groups love to hate. Environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee are backing an effort to repeal a rather esoteric tax break enjoyed mainly by oil refiners that could mean a big hit on the biz, $30 million a year. But while this battle is being framed as an extension of the ever-popular war on loopholes, it’s really the latest chapter in a long-running crusade to raise taxes on oil.
King Says it’s Time to Concede Reality – Gas-Tax Hike Unlikely Before Election, Suggests Late-2014 Special Session
Bad news, transportation fans. A state senator is saying this doesn’t look like the session for a gas-tax increase. And while there have been plenty of lawmakers saying that all along, this one happens to be the leading advocate for a transportation package in the Senate. Curtis King, R-Yakima, says it is about time time to give up on the idea this session. Nobody seems much interested in taking a tough tax vote in an election year. After the election, he says a special session should be swift.
It was déjà vu at the statehouse Tuesday as Gov. Jay Inslee rolled out a new tax proposal that takes a baby-step toward the state Supreme Court’s demand for a $5 billion school-funding plan. Aside from the court order, though, there really isn’t anything new about the proposal – and it appears that the governor is trying to place the age-old war on loopholes back before the Legislature once again. Whether lawmakers will take him up on it – well, don’t hold your breath. Even from legislative Dems, the response could be called mighty polite.
Forget what he said last month – taxes are now a central issue for this year’s legislative session, declares Gov. Jay Inslee in his state of the state address. The Supreme Court made him do it. Though he did everything but mention the deadly T-word itself, he said the Legislature needs to comply with last week’s Supreme Court order that it write a plan to pay the $5 billion cost of its McCleary decision by April 30. A measure of the Legislature’s opinion on the subject came when Supreme Court justices were introduced at Tuesday’s joint session of House and Senate. James Johnson, author of a dissenting opinion, was cheered.
For a few days last week, it looked like this was going to be a sleepy year at the statehouse, the long-expected transportation debate aside — and then the state Supreme Court issued an order dictating that the Legislature debate taxes this session. Suddenly lawmakers are supposed to figure out how to come up with $5 billion to fully fund education by the 2017-18 school year. It means a long-deferred debate on taxes may finally take place, but in the next few days we’ll find out whether there will be organized resistance to the court mandate. And does anyone now think the session will really wrap in 60 days?
Indian Tribal Gas-Tax Suit on its Way Back, at a Most Inconvenient Time for Legislature’s Transportation Debate
It probably couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the Legislature’s upcoming gas-tax debate, but the state’s independent service station operators are back in the state’s capital city with a long-running lawsuit that challenges the cut of fuel-tax money the state gives to Indian tribes. They’re asking the state Supreme Court to decide whether state gas-tax money can be used to pay Indian tribes for signing ‘compacts’ many believe were not necessary. Tim Hamilton’s gas-station group calls it a sweetheart deal, and if the court hears the case, the issue will surface right about the time voters may be deciding whether to raise their own gas taxes.
A new poll shows voters statewide favor a coal terminal proposed for Longview 56-31, two-thirds oppose a gas-tax increase, and public confidence in the economy is on the decline. But maybe the most striking thing about the survey of voter mood statewide, released Friday by Gallatin Public Affairs and GS Strategy Group, is that for all the agitation over the last year for pro-environmental “progressive” policies, primarily from the greater Seattle area, the rest of the state just isn’t on the same page.