by David Ammons | February 23rd, 2010
Both proposals rely on another round of spending cuts, more federal bailout bucks, fund transfers galore, and, yes, tax increases. The prob: closing a budget gap of $2.8 billion, just a few short months after dealing with a $9 billion projected deficit.
The Senate tax package, topping $918 million, would include a three-tenths of a penny boost in the state sales tax, to 6.8 percent, raising over $300 million in the next year. Senate Democrats also propose a $1-a-pack addition to the cigarette tax and over $500 million worth of tax exemption/loophole closures. The Senate also is using $229 million from the “rainy day” fund and booking $583 million in expected federal money. Budget cuts of $838 million are spelled out in Senate Bill 6444
The House Democrats, meanwhile, plan on a still-unannounced tax package of $857 million, about $60 million lower than the Senate’s level. Governor Gregoire, who has resisted raising the sales tax, previously suggested a tax package of $605 million, including a tax on petroleum products, bottled water, pop, candy and so forth. The House plan, House Bill 2824, counts on $641 in federal dollars, $465 million in fund transfers, and $653 million in cuts.
Both houses are moving lickety-split. Ordinarily, the Senate’s version would have moved clear through the Senate before the House debuted its alternative. Today, they came out less than three hours apart. The 60-day session must end by March 11, little more than two weeks away. Both chambers launched into public hearings and then will move into committee markup of the bills and approval by the full chamber. Then negotiators, in tandem with the governor’s office, will hammer out a final proposal, both budget and taxes.