New tax squeaks through Senate

RaeLynn Ricarte

Washington Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said GOP leaders lost their battle on Saturday to stop the Democrat-controlled Senate from “slipping an income tax plan in through the back door” in the guise of a capital gains tax.

What four hours of debate did manage to accomplish, said Short, was to strip away an emergency clause in the bill that would have made the tax take effect immediately. She said that would have made it much harder for citizens to launch a referendum campaign to overturn the legislation.

However, she said Senate Bill 5096 now goes to the Democrat-controlled House for consideration, so the emergency clause could be added back.

“We proposed several amendments that sought to clarify that the legal definition of a capital gains tax is an income tax, but they were all rejected,” said Short, who expects the issue to be legally challenged.

The vote on SB 5096 was 25-24, with four Democrats joining all 20 Republicans in opposition.

Short, whose 7th District encompasses Stevens, Ferry, Pend Oreille counties, as well as parts of Spokane and Pend Oreille counties, is the minority floor leader who presents the Republican stance on proposed laws.

She said Republicans, as the minority party, can’t stop approval of the capital gains tax in the House without an outcry from citizens.

Gov. Jay Inslee proposed the tax on investment earners in prior legislative sessions, but the proposal faced stiff opposition from all Republicans and some Democrats.

This year, Short said Democrats view “tax fairness” as a winning issue during the 105-day session that is approaching the halfway point.

She said the tilt to the left in November’s elections have led to at least 12 tax proposals in the House and nine in the Senate, including several that Short contends will drive up prices at the gas pump and grocery store.

“There’s no room for negotiations,” she said. “We used to be able to get some amendments through — at lot more bites at the apple — but it’s just not there anymore.”

Capital gains is the worst of many “bad bills” on a potential fast track, said Short, because the tax will end up affecting everyone, not just the state’s wealthy, as claimed by Democrats.

Read the full story in the March 10, 2021 edition of the Deer Park Tribune.


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