Today’s suggested exemptions to ax and sins to tax:
$10.9 million | Sales tax on out of state coal. Coal burned by a Centralia power plant was exempted from sales tax when 70% was purchased locally, to help preserve jobs. Now coal is imported into Washington — and the plant is a top producer of greenhouse emissions.
$20.5 million | B&O deduction for tuition & fees of private educational institutions. Applies to private and parochial schools approved by State Board of Education, accredited degree-granting colleges, private kindergartens and other institutions.
$231.8 million | Hospital safety net assessment. Proposed by the Washington State Hospital Association to leverage additional Medicaid reimbursements from the federal government, as in 25+ other states.
$24.7 million | Cigarette tax from $2.025 to $2.275. Smokers would pay an additional 25 cents per pack.
$8 million | Increase tobacco products excise tax. Applies to the first handling or sale of cigars, pipe or chewing tobacco, and other tobacco products except cigarettes.
Total value of this Ax It or Tax It package: $295.9 million
Total value of all Ax It or Tax It packages to date: $1.669 billion
Economically speaking, Washington has been hit by a “perfect storm”: Plummeting tax receipts brought on by the national recession are now slamming our state’s rickety and outdated tax system. Last year, lawmakers cut $3.4 billion from the state budget. This year, we face a projected $2.6 billion shortfall.
“Ax It or Tax It” offers budget solutions that will both balance the state budget this year and provide long-term budget stability in the years ahead. By closing tax exemptions that no longer serve a compelling public purpose and carefully choosing new sources of revenue, lawmakers can stabilize funding for quality schools, affordable health care, a safety net for the most vulnerable, affordable housing, public safety, and a clean environment.
You can read previous editions of “Ax It or Tax It” here.