19th LD Telephone Town Hall
I enjoyed holding a telephone town hall with Sen. Dean Takko last week and I want to thank everyone who listened in and asked questions. We got a wide range of questions, from inquiries about the budget and how we’re going to fund our schools, to concerns about fishing and hatcheries. Sen. Takko and I always look forward to the chances we get to talk with our constituents.
If you were not able to join the call, you can listen to it here.
Rural Jobs and One Year of Free Tuition?
Sometimes we get some really creative bills that can make really big things happen. HB 2177 is an example.
This legislation, known as the Rural County High Employer Demand Jobs Program, would offer one year of free tuition for high demand fields in small counties (population of 80,000 tops) with an unemployment rate higher than 8 percent and a median wage of less than $18.
The goal is to help small towns and economically struggling rural communities create opportunities and jobs for young people and unemployed residents.
It’s pretty late in the session, so its chances of moving this year are not great. However, that only means it can be fine-tuned over the interim, and come back with a punch in 2018. It’s a great idea, especially for our district, and I will be on board when the time comes.
A Serious Break for Small Businesses
There are more than 555,000 small businesses in our state; according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, they make up 98 percent of total businesses in Washington, and they employ more than half of our state’s workforce. But small businesses have carried an unfair burden of the Business and Occupation Tax while they competed with big businesses that have huge profit margins.
It’s time to give small businesses a break. Not a little break. Not a lower tax rate. No, I’m talking about a serious break:
What if they didn’t have to pay any B&O tax at all?
I know you just did a double take to make sure you read what you thought you read. You did. But here, let me say it again: Zero. Nothing. Nada. Zilch B&O tax.
That’s what’s in store in the House plan for small businesses with taxable revenue of $250,000 or less.
That means 72 percent of all businesses in the state would not have to pay a penny in state B&O anymore.
Now, say your business grows a little bigger, not to worry; our plan gives small businesses a $100,000 deduction if their taxable revenue falls between $250,000 and $500,000.
This big, bold and courageous reform really represents much needed serious tax relief for small business owners across the state.
Flipping the System
Washington has the most upside down tax system in the country. Middle-class families pay more than double to nearly four times as much in taxes as a percentage of personal income compared to the top earners. So, for instance, a janitor pays a higher percentage in taxes as a share of his income than the percentage paid by the CEO whose office he cleans. This is fundamentally unfair.
Instead of writing an upside down state budget for an upside down state tax system, House Democrats have a budget to flip the system into a tax code that is right-side up.
The House revenue package:
- As you read in the previous section, reduces tax liability to ZERO for 72% of Washington businesses by increasing the B&O tax rate by 20% on Washington’s highest grossing businesses. And creates a new small business deduction of $100,000 to businesses with taxable revenue between $250,000 and $500,000.
- Closes a handful of tax preferences that amount to $294 million over the next four years to help meet our McCleary funding solution.
- Changes the current real estate tax rate to a progressive rate that will lower costs for buying a home under $250,000 for working families and raises the rate for homes over $1 million.
- Introduces a 7% excise tax on the sale of corporate stocks, bonds, and other capital gains with exemptions to protect retirement accounts, single-family homes and more. This taxes large corporate profits, not paychecks. It will affect about 1.5% of tax filers in the state.
- Taxes most internet sales at the same rate as Washington’s local businesses.
I believe all of these proposed changes to the tax code will make a difference in our communities for working families throughout the state. What do you think? Let me know.