Senate Republicans oppose income-tax bill; Braun calls out ‘emergency clause’

OLYMPIA… Last evening a majority on the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend the passage of Senate Bill 5096, which would put a 7-percent tax on income from the sale or exchange of capital assets. The proposal, which is another attempt to impose a state income tax on Washington residents, was requested by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and a member of the committee, said the state’s financial situation doesn’t justify yet another try at a state income tax, and noted that Republicans are offering a better way.

“There is absolutely no need for more taxes. The four-year outlook from the governor’s own budget office undermines the claims we’ve heard that there is a massive deficit. Also, Senate Republicans just put a budget proposal on the table that would maintain services at the same levels endorsed by the governor, support the restart and recovery of our schools and economy, and enable enormous investments in important things around the state – all without needing more taxes.

“The sponsors insist on calling this an ‘excise’ tax, but we know what it really is. The Legislature has seen income-tax bills before. The voters have rejected income-tax bills many times before. What’s new, and worse, about this bill is its blatant misuse of the ‘emergency clause.’ The sponsors know that language shields a new law from being challenged by voters through a referendum. Republicans tried unsuccessfully to remove the emergency clause last evening. It certainly says something that the supporters are so determined to make their new tax voter-proof.

“If this was really about restructuring Washington’s tax code, SB 5096 would not just impose a new tax. It also would reduce or repeal one or more of the regressive taxes already being paid by the people. Last night Republicans also proposed reducing the state sales tax by a small percentage, which would especially help lower-income families. It too was rejected, as were the other Republican amendments. The bottom line is obvious – SB 5096 is a money grab masquerading as tax reform. The people of our state don’t need that, especially at a time like this. The committee’s vote to move this bill forward was disappointing, but Republicans will continue to defend the taxpayers by opposing harmful tax policies like this and supporting the sensible approach found in our new budget proposal.”