A lot of corporate tax breaks that had been on the chopping block in this year's budget negotiations—a $50 million exemption for big banks and a $76.5 million exemption for custom software—are preserved in the current budget deal.

A much smaller break, but a much more controversial one, a $4 million break for a coal-powered steam plant in Centralia—which the state Senate had originally reneged in this year's budget—is also back according to the revenue list we've seen (meaning no $4 million from TransAlta.)

The governor, who opposed the legislature's move to end the tax exemption all session,  is in closed-door negotiations with the company to get them to phase out their coal-powered steam plant in Centralia, the biggest single-source greenhouse gas polluter in the state, and she believes keeping the tax break in play will help the bargaining process.

In pushing the House and Senate to a budget compromise this week, Gregoire was apparently able to put the kibosh on the legislature's proposal (passed during the regular session as part of the budget) to end the exemption.

The Sierra Club, the loudest detractors of TransAlta's exemption, issued this statement today:


“TransAlta’s coal plant is Washington’s single largest stationary source of pollution, including carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and haze,” said Doug Howell, Director of the Sierra Club’s Coal Free Washington campaign.  “We believe it would be a better use of this money if it was invested in the clean energy workforce development that will ensure a responsible transition off of coal.”

State Sen. Eric Oemig (D-45), the main proponent for ending the exemption, was unavailable for a comment (he was at a mediation retreat according to his staff.)