Rep. Carlyle says he wants lawmakers to hold ‘courageous’ discussion of tax breaks in new Finance Committee
House Democrats reconstituted a revenue committee this year, breaking the House Ways and Means Committee in half – leaving House Finance and House Appropriations. Rep. Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat, is chairing the Finance operation and says he wants to set the table for a broader discussion of the tax system and how special favors in the tax code could be repealed if they are not producing a clear public benefit.
With the Senate caught in turmoil and narrowly led by an anti-tax coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats, Carlyle knows the change for any big tax changes may be slim. He says he first wants the House to help find ways to pay for the nearly $1.3 billion or $1.4 billion that some lawmakers think is needed to answer the Supreme Court’s ruling about underfunded K-12 schools.
“The House wants to be thought leaders in terms of helping to design a responsible budget and funding it,” Carlyle said in an interview last week, noting that the Senate goes first on the budget this year. “Funding the budget is job one. Job 2 is to put ‘McCleary’ (the court’s K-12 school funding challenge) on the table. … We defined basic education and we have to fund it.’’
The third piece of Carlyle’s agenda is a more systematic and longer-term look at tax breaks in the code, which are worth billions of dollars a year (some are popular, like the one exempting food and prescription drugs from the sales tax; others that let high-tech companies get credits for research-and-development spending are less so).