A proposal calling for $900 million in tax increases was approved by Democrats in the House Finance Committee on Tuesday.
Supporters say the tax package is necessary to funnel more money into the state’s public schools, but Republicans who voted against the measure say the plan will hurt businesses and the state’s economy.
House Bill 2038 passed on an 8-5 vote along party lines. The measure ends certain business tax exemptions and extends some taxes set to expire this year. Parts of the original proposal were dropped, including tax extensions on the beer industry, janitors, insurance agents and stevedores.
“Asking everyone to contribute to our quality of life, our quality of education for 1 million students in every community in our state is hard work. It’s tough to do. Closing just a few is hard, but investing in education is essential,” said committee chair Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle).
Republicans in the committee said the Legislature does not need new taxes to meet a court mandate to fully fund the state’s education system.
“We don’t need new taxes to balance our budget,” said Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama). “We’ve got plenty of money for education. If there is any courage needed, it’s the courage to fund education first and to say no to some other people.”
The tax measure will now head to the House floor for a vote.