News Oly Folly
posted by February 25 at 15:15 PMon
As I’ve Slogged a couple of times now, one of the best pieces of legislation in play this session in Olympia is Sen. Craig Pridemore’s (D-49, Vancouver) working families tax credit.
With a price tag of about $60 million, the program would allow low-income families (families who qualify for the federal level Earned Income Tax Credit) to get a tax rebate at the state level. These taxpayers currently can’t get a break at the state level because Washington State doesn’t have an income tax (we have a regressive sales tax). And since these aren’t the type of wage earners who can file at the state level for sales tax deductions that higher income taxpayers get to claim, Pridemore’s fix simply calls on the state to give them a rebate based on their federal deduction.
Sen. Pridemore passed the bill out of the Senate, with a caveat that they wouldn’t have to fund it this year. (As the bill made its way to the Senate floor last week, state revenue projections dropped by $423 million.)
This has given the House a legitimate excuse not to pass his legislation, though. Why bother with something that isn’t funded?
I talked to Sen. Pridemore today, and he argues that the advantage of passing the legislation this year is that it will take a year to get the program in place anyway. If Pridemore holds off, working families will be strapped unnecessarily for an extra year. If the program is in place, the momentum will be there to fund it next year.
It’s an okay argument (an okay argument), but really, Sen. Pridemore should have stuck to his initial bill, and passed funded legislation. After all, as our conversation proceeded, Sen. Pridemore landed on his best argument for passing the bill this year: “We’re going to have $750 million in reserves, saying we don’t have the money for this is not true.” Exactly.
The bill is currently in the House finance committee where the House finance chair, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond), has told Sen. Pridemore he doesn’t have the votes.