House Democrats have weighed into the tax debate in Olympia, offering an assortment of tax hikes – called “cats and dogs” in Capitol-speak – rather than a package that is anchored by a state sales tax increase.
The $858 million package is closer in approach to Governor Gregoire than the Senate Democrats. The Democratic governor proposed a $605 million mix of taxes, including a $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes, a tax on pop and candy and a higher hazardous materials tax on petroleum and other products. The House closes tax loopholes and taxes smokes, bottle water, elective cosmetic surgery, custom software and personal aircraft. It boosts the tax on lawyers, accountants and others. It does not include the hazardous waste tax increase, nor does it follow the Senate’s lead of boosting the sales tax by three-tenths of a cent on the dollar. The Senate’s approach would raise $918 million during the next 18 months.
The two chambers, in consultation with the governor, are racing a March 11 adjournment deadline to pass a budget rewrite and a tax package that will close a $2.8 billion budget gap.