Moeller backs capital protests, says demonstrators ‘are right on the money’

Rallyers underscore ‘need to overhaul our dismal tax-exemption system,’ lawmaker asserts

OLYMPIA – Thousands of rallyers descending upon the State Capitol today to denounce proposed state-budget cuts “are right on the money,” according to state Rep. Jim Moeller.

“I respect and support the message these regular, mainstream Washington working people are emphasizing in their protests and demonstrations,” Moeller emphasized.

”You bet I share their enthusiastic wishes that this added attention will – somehow, someway – convince enough other legislators to recognize that an honest, thorough look needs to be taken at writing a fair and responsible budget.

“We need to overhaul our dismal tax-exemption system,” Moeller said. “If what it takes to send that message loud and clear is a Capitol Campus full of stirred-up Washington citizens and taxpayers, then more power to them.”

The House of Representatives is close to passing a new biennial operating-budget proposal that would slash in the neighborhood of $4.4 billion from state-spending. Moeller has called this proposal “the best we can do, considering how sternly we’re hamstrung by our Republican colleagues in trying to fight our way through the worst of this Great Recession.

“Frankly, the Republican inflexibility severely limits options in this hardest-times budget. Ending the sales-tax exemption for Oregonians, for example, would bring in an additional $83.7 million that could go to help fund Washington schools.“

House Speaker Pro Tempore Moeller and more than a few other lawmakers are very open to eliminating at least some of the state’s 500 tax exemptions. But a supermajority-vote requirement – a mathematical impossibility without at least some minority-Republican support – all but throttles much talk of tax-exemption reform.

“Our Republican colleagues in the House are refusing to help us close tax loopholes as recommended by the bipartisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee,” he said.