Bipartisanship at Last. At Least For Tax Breaks.
Facing a $900 million budget shortfall, politicians—Democrats and Republicans alike—are still pitching tax breaks.
The lefties at the Washington Budget & Policy Center have (reliably) quantified all the tax breaks that legislators are proposing this session: $410 million worth on everything from a machinery and equipment sales tax exemption sponsored by a Republican to a solar energy tax exemption sponsored by a Democrat, from a restaurant sales tax exemption sponsored by a Republican to a startup company exemption sponsored by a Democrat.
The flurry of tax breaks—we count 13 Republican prime sponsors and 11 Democratic prime sponsors for all the various bills (with Democrats and Republicans—and fence-straddling Sens. Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom—signing on to this one or that one)—comes at a time when the legislature is trying to close a $900 million to $1.3 billion budget shortfall, plus looking for an additional $1.4 billion this biennium for K-12 funding to meet a Washington State Supreme Court mandate to fulfill the state's paramount duty, funding education.
The Washington Budget & Policy Center's blog, Schmudget—Yiddish for budget—has a post on the numbers.
We've added to their awesome research by identifying the Republican or Democratic prime sponsors of each bill along with a breakdown of party co-sponsors. Our point: Both parties are pitching breaks.
Certainly, some tax breaks are more worthy than others—and in fact, it was a Republican who pointed out that a Democratic bill to end a batch of tax breaks would have hit nonprofit health care providers.
But while one person's giveaway is another person's just cause, the fact remains that Republicans and Democrats alike are trying to pass them; one—the $31 million giveaway for a school-supplies tax holiday we've written about—is being sponsored by a Democrat in the house and a Republican in the senate.
We've included one Schmudget left off—they say there was no way to calculate the loss—but it's one we're obsessed with (the luxury jet repair tax break). Our reporting shows repairs on jets can run an average of $50,000 to $150,000 per month. With the state's 9.5 percent tax, this could be more than $100,000 per year ... per plane.