Inslee tax proposals

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee defends his tax proposals Jan. 10 in Olympia at a session preview. The Legislature convenes Jan. 14. Republican leaders say majority Democrats can't count on GOP votes for higher taxes.

OLYMPIA — Democrats can't count on any Republican votes to raise taxes on income from selling stocks or bonds or from providing services, including some services to farmers, House and Senate Republican leaders said Thursday.

Speaking at a session preview hosted by The Associated Press, Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler and House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox criticized the tax proposals by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

Wilcox, R-Yelm, said lawmakers should anticipate an economic slowdown that would make sustaining higher spending impossible.

"We know the storm is coming," he said. "Rather than growing reliance on state government even more, I think we should be thinking about dialing into the most important priorities, understanding that in the next few years we will have another budget crisis."

The Legislature convenes Monday for a 105-day session. Democrats hold majorities in both chambers, but would need Republican votes if a handful of Democrats opposed raising taxes to fund Inslee's two-year, $54 billion spending plan, a 21 percent increase over the budget approved in 2017.

Inslee has proposed nearly $4 billion in higher taxes. The two main tax proposals are a 9 percent tax on proceeds of more than $25,000 from selling stocks and bonds and raising the business and occupation tax on services to 2.5 percent from 1.5 percent. The tax applies to self-employed professionals such as lawyers and veterinarians, and in some cases pesticide applicators, crop dusters and other providers of agricultural services.

Speaking separately at the same forum, Inslee said the state needs more money to meet its moral and legal obligations. The legal obligations include a federal court order to replace state-owned culverts that impede salmon.

"I can't just tell the courts to just kiss off," Inslee said. "You don't just raise taxes for the fun of it. You raise taxes when it's necessary because of constitutional, moral obligations.

"I'm not shocked at the Republicans' views (on taxes), so it's not debilitating to our effort," he said. "And you know, voters voted on what they wanted this year, too. They happened to vote for the blue team."

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