Some legislative ideas are dubbed dead on arrival and then there are the ones for which the funeral quite possibly preceded the birth. We’ll just have to wait and see on Democratic Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe‘s $1.5 billion-a-year income tax plan introduced today. She would send it to voters as a referendum in November.
McAuliffe offered up her idea – Senate Bill 5900 – a week after Gov. Jay Inslee offered up a $1.2 billion revenue plan and one day after the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus offered up its two-year spending plan for 2013-15 that pretty much swore off tax hikes.
The Senate majority’s budget proposal, which had input from minority Democrats, did not put new money into reducing class size for K-12 public schools. But McAuliffe’s proposal – which is co-sponsored by Democratic Leader Ed Murray of Seattle and Democratic Caucus chair Karen Fraser of Thurston County – would do just that.
McAuliffe is painting her idea as tax reform, and indeed it would attempt to take some of the state’s infamously regressive tax burden off the poor and shift it to those of higher means. She would slap a 4.5 percent tax on incomes (with deductions of $200,000 for single returns and $400,000 for joint returns) and trim the state share of the sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent.
Here is McAuliffe’s statement:
“Last week Governor Jay Inslee’s budget proposal focused on closing tax loopholes and dedicating new revenue to education, lower class sizes, intensive remediation for struggling students and professional growth opportunities for teachers and principals. I applaud Governor Inslee’s budget proposal. Putting the education of our kids first is the right priority.
“I believe we need a substantial overhaul of our tax system in order to fund education including early learning for our most at risk children, lower classes in K-12 and access to college for our students through financial aid.
“Therefore, I am introducing a revenue referendum, and ask the Legislature to send this vote to the people.
“I believe the public deserves the chance to decide for themselves if they want to buy back detrimental cuts to the most vulnerable and fund education for our students to ensure all children have the support they need to be able to live their dreams.”
McAuliffe put out a press release saying she would tie the revenues to a few purposes:
–Preschool for 38,000 eligible children in low-income families.
–Reduced class sizes for K-12 grades.
–And helping to pay for College Bound Scholarships and other financial aid.
Asking voters to approve taxes that pay for class-size improvements would, in effect, deliver the financing that was never provided when voters approved Initiative 728’s class-size mandate in 2000. That measure was suspended in tough budget times and eventually repealed during the last budget cycle.
The Washington Education Association, which led the campaign for I-728, sharply criticized the Senate budget Wednesday for failing to put money into class size improvements. The teachers union has been running radio ads saying Washington has the fourth-most-crowded classrooms in the country.