PORT ANGELES — Rep. Mike Chapman on Tuesday fired back at state House Republican leaders who visited Port Angeles last week.
“Don’t come into my district, talk to my newspaper and say I’m not representing my district when you voted against tax breaks that directly benefit my district,” the Port Angeles Democrat told the Port Angeles Business Association meeting.
“I found that highly offensive and would not do that to another legislative district.”
Chapman, who is running for re-election in November, was responding to state House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox of Yelm, Rep. Jim Walsh of Aberdeen and House Republican Caucus Communications Director John Handy, who spoke to Peninsula Daily News Publisher Terry Ward, Executive Editor Leah Leach and reporter Paul Gottlieb on Thursday.
Wilcox described an urban-vs.-rural, Seattle-area-vs.-rest-of-Washington divide that runs counter to rural-area 24th District voters who consistently vote for Democratic state lawmakers such Chapman.
Chapman told those who attended the meeting that lawmakers from the 24th Legislative District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County, secured funding for several local projects.
The state legislature approved $350,000 for suicide barriers on the Eighth Street Bridges in Port Angeles, nearly $700,000 for Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics to expand and $1.5 million to help in the William Shore Memorial Pool expansion and other projects.
Chapman spent much of his time Tuesday talking about tax cuts for small business owners and property owners.
He voted for the state’s supplemental budget, which included a one-time property tax cut meant to offset the increase homeowners have seen following an 81 cent increase to the statewide property tax increase that lawmakers approved last year.
Chapman opposed the tax increase last year and the supplemental budget this year that narrowly passed through the Senate and House after party-line votes.
“I did support the property tax cut and did not support what I thought was … an onerous property tax increase on low, middle-class retirees,” he said. “That was a large increase and should not have been passed.”
Chapman said one of his bills that didn’t get a hearing during the recent legislative session would have provided a $5,000 tax credit for small businesses that generate $250,000 or less in gross revenue.
“I thought it was a good way to recognize in rural Washington the impacts of minimum wage increases and other costs that have come up,” he said.
He called the state Business & Occupation tax an income tax on small business owners. He asked those who attended the meeting how many were business owners and several people raised their hands.
“That’s who we’ve chosen to tax in this state is small business,” he said. “We don’t choose to tax anybody else’s income but small business owners’ in this state.
“It’s certainly not helping rural Washington.”
Chapman said if he’s “lucky enough” to be re-elected, he will continue to push for rural tax breaks and property tax reductions.
He said there was recently a bill that would have exempted more than 80 percent of small businesses from paying any B&O tax and would have asked those who earn $500,000 a year or more to pay a capital gains tax.
Chapman challenged anyone to tell him why it’s fair that a small business owner who might gross $125,000 pays a tax, but a tax on profits over $500,000 isn’t fair.
“When someone can say that’s absolutely fair that a sole proprietor that makes $100,000 and works 80 hours a week as a sole proprietor should pay state income tax, but someone who makes … above $500,000 would pay not tax to fund basic education … then I’ll listen,” he said. “But that’s not a fair system.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].