Gov. Chris Gregoire has released a statement regarding Senate efforts to start a debate about a high-earners income tax:
“I recognize the tremendous difficulties that legislators are facing as they craft a budget under these challenging economic conditions. However, as I have stated before, I do not support a state income tax. The new proposal will undoubtedly raise constitutional and legal challenges and probably wouldn’t bring in new revenue in time to address the economic crisis we face.
“I too wrote a budget, and I am keenly aware of the painful choices we must make. I see clearly the faces of Washingtonians hurt by budget cuts. I am looking for wise choices to protect our vulnerable, especially our children, and to make sure we fund K-12 and higher education at appropriate levels so that we come out of this recession stronger. We can’t afford to just ride out this economic crisis and wait for things to turn around. We must emerge from it ready to resume our powerful progress in a 21st Century economy.
“As hard as it may seem in these difficult times, we must make the kind of investments now that will allow us to seize the economic development opportunities that will occur when the state rebounds.
“I look forward to continue working with legislative leaders from both parties to craft a sustainable budget for the next two years.”
I suppose she’s thinking “no income tax, end of conversation,” but I sure hope she’s wrong and that momentum toward an honest debate on a high-earners income tax continues to build.
Yes, the governor’s right that the Kohl-Welles bill and other proposals do indeed raise constitutional and legal issues, and probably would not bring in substantial revenues in time to meet immediate needs… but these needs won’t go away, and now is exactly the time to discuss how we’re going to meet them over the long term. We are in the midst of a crisis. Folks are paying attention. And if we make our arguments carefully and cogently, voters might even be willing to consider new ideas, even if most Olympia insiders are not.