1. A new report from the Washington State Dept. of Revenue on "tax incentive programs," more commonly known as tax breaks, says state revenue was reduced by $445 million thanks to 34 business & occupation tax, public utility tax, and retail sales tax incentives over the last eight year "deferral period."
"Over half of this was attributable to the sales tax deferral/exemption for high technology firms with an impact of $278 million," DOR Director Carol Nelson writes in a memo to the state legislature this week.
Taking a look at that $278 million impact (or reduction in state revenue), the majority of the tax savings are going to big companies: Nearly $249 million of the $278 million (89.5 percent) went to 32 companies with 250 or more employees while the remaining 10 percent went to small companies.
"The sales tax deferral for corporate headquarters facilities located in a community empowerment zone ... has yet to attract any firms."—WA State Dept. of Revenue Director Carol K. Nelson
Similarly, the exemptions from taxes helped well-established industries such as timber rather than struggling sectors.
Nelson writes in her executive summary: "The B&O tax rate reduction for the timber industry had the most participants in 2013 with 765 firms. At the other extreme was the sales tax deferral for corporate headquarters facilities located in a community empowerment zone; it has yet to attract any firms."
CEZs are defined in part as areas with high unemployment rates.
2. State Sen. Pam Roach (R-31, Auburn) has already filed a bill for the 2015 legislative session: A constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes.
In a 6-3 February 2013 Washington State Supreme Court decision, the justices ruled that the voter mandated two-thirds rule (Tim Eyman's I-1053 and subsequently I-1185) was unconstitutional.
Ahem. Republicans like Sen. Roach need a two-thirds majority vote to send a constitutional amendment to the people.
3. Seattle's KC Golden, a senior policy advisor at local environmental group Climate Solutions, is taking over as the interim director at the national group 350.org. Founder Bill McKibben is stepping down.
350.org has led opposition to the Keystone pipeline and leads a campus divestment movement from oil companies.
4. File this one under PubliCalendar: The race for the City Council's District 5 seat (North Seattle) has already attracted three candidates: progressive activist Rev. Sandy Brown, former mayor Norm Rice's son Mian Rice, and Planned Parenthood organizer Halei Watkins.
Neighborhood leaders in the increasingly active and diverse (a 65 percent increase in people of color between 2000 and 2010) Lake City portion of the 5th are holding a meet and greet with the candidates tonight at El Norte Lounge at 13717 Lake City Way between 137th St & N. Erickson Pl. NE from 6 to 7 pm.