Archive for tax

Zombies invade state Capitol to lobby for film tax breaks

By | March 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

Zombies invaded the state Capitol Tuesday to lobby for bigger film tax breaks. Photo by Ashley Stewart.

Film crews transformed Washington’s Capitol into a zombie apocalypse Tuesday to convince lawmakers to boost tax breaks for film and TV production within the state.

More than 200 cast and crew members from productions including SyFy series Z-Nation were there in support of a bill they say would keep more jobs in Washington.

Right now, Washington has $3.5 million in tax credits for in-state film and television production. Senate Bill 6027 would expand the pool to $5.25 million in 2016, $7 million in 2017, $8.5 million in 2018 and $10 million in 2019.

The state’s current tax break pool isn’t big enough, writer and director of Tuesday’s shoot Sue Corcoran said. She’s moved one of her own projects to Canada, she says, because was more affordable for the $6.6 million film. “That’s a lot of jobs,” she said.

Supporters say that’s nothing new. Washington can’t compete with $250 million in annual incentives in Vancouver, B.C. and $10 million in Oregon.

That’s partly why some of most famous production set in Washington, including Twilight and Grey’s Anatomy, were shot in other states. Russell Hodgkinson, a Seattle-based actor who plays “Doc” on Z-Nation, says that’s a shame. “Seattle is a beautiful place to shoot,” he said. “People love it here, we have outstanding crews and really top notch actors, but filmmakers don’t have much of an incentive to film here.”

Gov. Jay Inslee, who visited the Spokane set of Z-Nation last year, during a Tuesday press conference said it’s difficult to consider expanding tax breaks when lawmakers have an obligation under the McCleary decision to fully fund education this year. “It is a serious issue to see if we can help the movie industry,” he said. “But it’s just a matter of priorities.”

Click through to see a timelapse of a zombie getting made up: (more…)

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Washington Senate imposes two-thirds approval rule for tax increases

By | January 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Patrol Color Guard presents the colors at the start of the 2015 Washington State Legislature Opening Day.

The 2015 Washington State Legislature kicked off Monday with a new rule that makes it harder for the Senate to pass tax increases — a new requirement for a two-thirds majority approval to pass tax increases in that chamber.

The new rules would apply to bills in the Senate, which is controlled by the Majority Coalition Caucus. The House of Representatives, which has a Democratic majority, did not consider a similar rule. Tax increases in this Legislative session, however, would have to pass both chambers before becoming law.

The rules included a clause that would require bills proposing new tax increases to get a two-thirds supermajority approval of the Senate before advancing to third reading. The exception would be to bills that send the tax increases to the voters in a referendum.

The Senate approved the rules with 26 yes votes.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville), told TVW before the opening day ceremonies he believed the voters of the state would support the change.

In 2012, 64 percent of Washington voters approved Initiative 1185, which created a requirement of two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate — or voter approval — to pass tax increases. 1185 passed in every county. It was similar to previous initiatives, including Initiative 1053 which also passed by 64 percent in 2010.*

“The two-thirds majority requirement was approved by nearly every county we represent,” Schoesler told Anita Kissee of The Impact.

However, the State Supreme Court struck down 1185 initiative as being unconstitutional in 2013. The state Constitution requires a simple majority in the Senate to pass.

The change could make it more difficult for legislators to pass key parts of Gov. Jay Inslee‘s budget proposal, which includes a new capital gains tax and a tax on polluters for carbon emissions.

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) cited the court decision and the state Constitution as a reason to vote against the rule change. He proposed his own amendment that would have required a two-thirds majority to approve the rule change.

“We are proposing a Senate rule that goes around the Constitution,” he said. “This is no different of any rule that needs to be enforced. We can’t have one set of rules for us, that aren’t in the Constitution.”

Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) argued that the rule does not include closing tax loopholes and acting on existing taxes, which means that there are still ways for the Senate to propose revenue increases without the two-thirds majority approval.

“It only would impact things like a capital gains tax or an income tax or a radical change in the tax structure of our state,” he said.

But Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) said that the bill hurts moderates, because 17 members of the Senate can block an increase.

“In my view this set of rules is about preventing members of the majority from moving to the center to work on compromise,” he said. “The solutions come usually from the political middle…. This set of rules is a recipe for gridlock.”

Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) said the rules change will force the Legislature to think of ways to address budget issues other than raising taxes.

“While I wish we could have applied this rule to all taxes that might come before the Legislature this session, applying it to new taxes is still very significant,” he said in a prepared statement released following the rule change. “This will make it much more difficult for Gov. Jay Inslee to pass his misguided proposals for cap and trade and a new capital gains tax.”

*An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the most recent supermajority tax approval initiative.

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Gov. Jay Inslee defends tax proposal

By | January 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday defended his plan to raise $1.4 billion in revenue with a capital-gains tax, cigarette taxes and other changes, saying he embarked on a “long and arduous” process to come to that conclusion.

“I’ve been wrestling with these budget numbers for several months,” Inslee said at the Associated Press Legislative Preview forum. “Legislators are just now returning from their private lives and businesses and farms. They’re now going to have to look at the hard numbers, and they will see we have some real challenges.”

Responding to Republican criticism that a capital-gains tax would be too volatile, Inslee said that 43 other states use it as a “well-known, well-tested, predictable source of financing.” The governor’s budget proposal calls for a 7 percent tax on capital gains earnings from stocks and bonds above a certain threshold, which he says would affect less than 1 percent of Washingtonians.

Gov. Inslee speaking at AP Legislative Preview

Inslee’s budget would also increase the state cigarette tax by 50 cents and add a tax to e-cigarette and vapor products. He said on Thursday that e-cigarettes are a “gateway” to nicotine addiction for kids — not a way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, as many smokers say.

The governor said he’s not surprised at the “heavy skepticism” that is being expressed at his budget ideas, including a proposal raise $380 million by charging polluters for carbon emissions.

Much of the new spending would fund education. Inslee said he is open to other solutions offered by Republicans.

Lead Republican budget writer Sen. Andy Hill said earlier in the day it is a “myth” that the state is facing a budget deficit, and believes it is a tactic to “scare” people to raise taxes. He says he believes the issues can be solved with existing revenue.

Inslee disagreed, calling it a “rhetorical debate.”

TVW taped the forum — watch the governor’s segment here.

Categories: Governors Office, tax

Legislative Year in Review

By | March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Cough syrup abuse, faith healing and a fuel tax break

By | February 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Thursday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have details about a bill that would make it harder for anyone under the age of 18 to buy cough syrup. Experts say kids are drinking of certain types of cough syrup to get high. Store clerks would be required to check IDs for anyone buying the cold medicine.

We also have highlights from a discussion about a bill that deals with faith healing. It was brought in response to the case of Zachery Swezey, who was 17 when he died of a ruptured appendix. His parents prayed for him to heal instead of taking him to an emergency room.

Plus, details about a bill that would close a fuel tax break to pay for schools. Watch the show below:

 

Categories: Criminal Justice, tax

Eyman initiative demands constitutional amendment vote on tax hikes

By | January 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Initiative activist Tim Eyman proposed a new voter initiative Monday that would cut $1 billion a year from the state budget unless the Legislature sends voters a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled last year that the two-thirds “supermajority” requirement violates the state constitution because a bill requires a simple majority vote of the Legislature to pass. The high court said a constitutional amendment would be necessary to implement the two-thirds requirement.

If voters approve Eyman’s initiative, the proposal would cut the state’s sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, or about $1 billion dollars a year, unless the Legislature puts a two-thirds constitutional amendment on the ballot by April 2015. If the constitutional amendment reaches voters by April 2015, the sales tax reduction never will go into effect.

“Our initiative gives the Legislature an impossible-to-ignore financial incentive to let us vote. It’s elegant, legal, and easy to explain,” Eyman said in a press release.

Eyman’s initiative was among six filed at the Secretary of State’s office Monday. Other initiatives filed Monday include:

  • Two other Eyman-sponsored  initiatives, including one that would restore $30 car tabs and eliminate cameras used for issuing tickets for speeding and red-light violations, and another that would outlaw such cameras unless approved by voters;
  • Two medical cannabis initiatives that would create legal protections for patients with prescriptions for medical marijuana;
  • An initiative that would show state support for a U.S. Constitutional amendment to prevent corporations from being considered citizens.

The full text of the initiatives filed Monday are available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Initiative sponsors have until July 3 to submit 246,372 valid signatures from registered Washington voters before they would appear statewide in the November general election.

House committee approves Boeing tax incentives, 10-3

By | November 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

The House Finance Committee voted 10-3 Friday to approve a measure that will give Boeing billions in tax breaks through 2040.

The bill is part of a deal to guarantee that Boeing will build its new 777X airplane and wings in Washington state.

Republican Rep. Cary Condotta voted against the bill, saying that the Legislature was “circumventing the process” by passing the measure so quickly. Special session started on Thursday and lawmakers expect a floor vote on the bill by Saturday.

Condotta said there’s a larger problem with the state’s business climate that isn’t being addressed.

Boeing can “snap its fingers” and get legislation approved in 24 hours, Condotta said, but there’s been “little progress for small businesses” over the last decade.

Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver, also voted against the bill, saying his caucus felt “blindsided” by the special session and legislation. (more…)

Categories: tax, TVW, WA House
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On TVW this week: Discussion about Washington’s tax structure, mental health and prison populations

By | October 7, 2013 | 0 Comments

Here’s a look at what will be airing on TVW this week. We’ll update this post when new events are added.

Monday at 1:30 p.m.: TVW will be live on television and the web with the House Finance Committee. They’re holding a work session to compare Washington’s tax structure to other states. Washington state relies heavily on sales and excise taxes, and it does not have an income tax. Watch the webcast at this link.

Tuesday at 9 a.m.: TVW will air the oral arguments for three Supreme Court cases at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.: TVW will live webcast the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which is scheduled to discuss the “medical necessity defense” for people who use medical marijuana. Watch the webcast here.

Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.: TVW will live webcast the Washington State Board of Health meeting from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Watch the live webcast here.

Wednesday at 1 p.m.: TVW willl live webcast a public hearing on a proposed coal export terminal at the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter near Longview. Watch the live webcast here.

Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m.: On The Impact this week, host Anita Kissee looks at the renewed push to ensure children are provided legal representation in certain family court cases. Plus, an update on wolf recovery in Washington and changes to rules that allow people to kill wolves during attacks.

Thursday at 9:30 a.m.: TVW will be live on television and the web with the House Appropriations Committee. They’re holding a work session to get an update on mental health programs. They’ll also discuss prison population statistics and “lean management” savings. Watch the webcast at this link.

Thursday at 7 & 10 p.m.: Inside Olympia host Austin Jenkins interviews state Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn and Charter School Commission Chair Steve Sundquist.

Friday at 9 p.m.: TVW’s documentary on GMO labels will air at 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “Washington’s Food Fight” examines the debate over Initiative 522, which would require labels on genetically engineered food sold in Washington state. The documentary is also available online here.

Categories: GMO, Healthcare, Marijuana, tax, TVW

Transportation tax package fails to pass House

By | June 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

A proposal to raise the state’s gas tax by 10.5 cents failed to pass the House by one vote on Wednesday.

A bill needs 50 votes to pass. The vote was at 49-41, but then a supporter — Democratic Rep. Marko Liias — changed his vote to a “no” so that he could make a motion to reconsider the bill. Only a representative from the “prevailing side” can bring up a bill for reconsideration.

The final vote was 48-42. Seven members were excused, including Democratic Rep. Dean Takko, who is said to be traveling in Asia.

“Now we know who is opposed,” Liias said after the vote. “We know who we need to talk to.”

During debate over the bill, transportation chair Rep. Judy Clibborn said the $10 billion transportation package would create more than 100,000 jobs.

“It’s a jobs package in a big way,” she said.

The package included more than $3 billion for major projects such as the Columbia River Crossing bridge, as well as $1 billion for the maintenance of bridges and highways.

“I really am disappointed,” Clibborn said after the vote.

Several Republicans spoke in opposition to the revenue package during floor debate.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, said that the state would be raising gas taxes on Washington residents during peak travel season.

The proposal would have raised the state’s gas tax by 6 cents in August. The next increase would take place in the summer of 2014.

The only Republican to join with Democrats in voting in favor of the package was Rep. Hans Zeiger. Democrats who voted “no” included Representatives Brian Blake, Hans Dunshee, Kathy Haigh, Chris Hurst, Monica Stonier and Kevin Van De Wege.

Liias made a motion to reconsider the revenue package just before the House adjourned for the day. It is scheduled to return at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Gov. Jay Inslee has previously said he wants the state to adopt a transportation package before the end of session. Inslee’s spokesman David Postman said after the vote: “This is not over.”

Categories: tax, transportation

House debates amendments to transportation tax package

By | June 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

The House debated amendments Tuesday on a transportation revenue package that would raise the gas tax by 10.5 cents a gallon to pay for major projects, such as the Columbia River Crossing and State Route 167/509.

It would also provide funding for public transit, ferries, bicycle and walking paths, bridge preservation and other projects.

Many Republicans oppose light rail on the Columbia River Crossing. Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, introduced an amendment that would remove light rail from the bridge.

“Clark County is not clamoring this project,” Harris said.

Urging a no vote on the amendment, Democratic Rep. Sharon Wylie said that businesses won’t relocate to Vancouver because “they think we’re ridiculous for not connecting to light rail.”

The amendment to remove light rail failed. Another amendment that would have sent the tax package to the ballot for a vote of the people also narrowly failed, 46-45.

The House did not vote on the final bill, instead deferring it for later.

Meanwhile, there’s no announcement of a budget deal as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Categories: tax, transportation