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State Labor Council calls for putting $3 billion in taxes before voters

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
January 13, 2011 11:32 am

Washington’s biggest labor group wants lawmakers to put $3 billion or more in tax breaks on the ballot for suspension as early as this spring, in an attempt to avoid the worst proposed budget cuts.

The kind of tax breaks the State Labor Council is contemplating for a proposed three-year moratorium include sales tax exemptions for business services like investment advice and architectural services. Jeff Johnson, the labor council’s president, said he knows business groups will fight increases in their members’ taxes tooth and nail.

“We have to be bold, put something out there for the people to vote on, and then make the case for it,” he said.

The State Labor Council briefed reporters this morning. Here’s the early report from the Associated Press:

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state Labor Council thinks voters should have the chance to suspend up to $3 billion in tax breaks to bail out the state’s budget.

Labor Council President Jeff Johnson says Washington simply can’t afford all the tax breaks it currently gives out.

Legislators are trying to bridge a gap of about $4.6 billion between projected revenue and spending over the next two years. But voters recently rejected tax increases and made it very difficult for the Legislature to raise taxes.

The Labor Council also says the Legislature should consider paying unemployed families up to $50 per week for each child. Union officials say that could be drawn from the state unemployment trust fund, coupled with tax help for employers.

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