April 22, 2011

A crack in the door on closing tax loopholes as House holds hearing

Segall testifies at hearing on closing tax loopholes. (Photo courtesy TVW)

WFSE/AFSCME members prepare for tax loophole hearing. From left: Barb Hangartner, Local 313; Steve Segall, Local 443; and Katie Nelson, Local 443. Jim Dawson of FUSE Washington is standing in background.

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday (April 21) held a hearing on three proposals to close tax loopholes to pay for education and health care.

Two of the measures would be sent to the voters in November – HB 2087 for mental health and HB 2102 for in-home health care.

The other measure up for hearing was HB 2078, which would cap the business and occupation tax deduction for first mortgages and deeds of trust on residential properties to $100 million a year per taxpayer. The proceeds would fund education.

They face an uphill battle. But the fact your activism and phone calls and e-mails and rallies got this issue this far is a first-round victory. No one wanted to talk about these issues at the start of the session.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins of the 27th District, sponsor of HB 2078, said closing tax loopholes only makes sense when $10 billion has been cut from vital services during the Great Recession.

“It’s a staggering amount of money and it’s had staggering effect on lots of people in this state,” Jinkins told the committee.

Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson of the 36th District, sponsor of HB 2087 on mental health funding, said that level of cuts “will completely shred the safety net.”

Jim Dawson of FUSE Washington, a coalition of activists, said the three tax loophole-closing measures were a “step in the right direction” backed by online comments his group has received.

“It’s clear people are upset that these tax breaks are still on the books while billions have already been cut from education and health care,” Dawson said. “These cuts don’t reflect Washington’s values.”

The bottom line is building a moral budget, “one that takes responsibility to govern for the good of the people and not just for for-profit entities,” said Federation Local 443 member Steve Segall, a member of the General Government Bargaining Team.


Call 800-562-6000 and urge legislators to support closing tax loopholes to save the safety net. Specifically, support HB 2078, HB 2087 and HB 2102.

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