By Sean Harding
WNPA Olympia News Bureau
OLYMPIA — A proposal by Sen. Bob Hasegawa would create a state revenue reform task force to review the state tax system and make recommendations to the Legislature on how it can better serve state residents.
The proposed legislation also would seek funding mechanisms described as undisturbed by economic fluctuation, equitably spread among citizens, transparent and administratively simple.
The task force would include a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Senate and the House, as well as representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Washington Association of Cities and Washington State Association of Counties.
The task force might also convene an advisory group consisting of members of academia, business representatives and the general public.
“We think that it’s high time that the state take a look at its revenue, its tax system, in order to determine whether or not it’s keeping pace effectively with the changing dynamics in our economy,” said Patrick Connor of the National Federation of Independent Business.
Gov. Jay Inslee proposed several major tax changes last year. While a new budget will need to be written and approved by the Legislature, Inslee’s proposals include the introduction of a capital gains tax and raising the Business & Occupation tax on services to 2.5 percent.
“This is not a proposal to create an income tax by the way,” said Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, “although that is not prohibiting them from coming to that conclusion.”
Not everyone agreed that the state tax system is in need of overhaul.
“This language sort of puts the cart before the horse and concludes that the tax structure is in need of reform,” said Clay Hill, government affairs director at the Washington Association of Business.
If the legislation is passed, the task force will be required to submit a final report to the Legislature by Dec. 1.
This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.