Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray wants to seek voter approval of a 5 percent excise tax on capital gains.
He floated the idea at a news conference on Friday. In the past, this kind of trial balloon would have made a stir in Olympia. But with Republicans in control of the state Senate this year, Murray’s proposal might not even get a hearing.
GOP lawmakers have made it clear they won’t increase taxes to plug a projected $1 billion budget shortfall or to meet state Supreme Court mandates for additional K-12 funding. Gov. Jay Inslee also has said he would veto any proposal for a new tax.
Murray noted that sending taxes to the ballot would sidestep the governor, because it would not need his signature. As for the GOP control of the Senate, “Whether we are in the minority or the majority, we have a responsibility to present the views of our constituents,” he said.
Murray said he hopes Republicans will ultimately agree to send some kind of package to voters that would include government reforms and raise additional tax revenue. “We need to put some ideas on the table. If not this idea, then another idea,” he said.
The capital gains tax proposed by Murray would exclude the sale of a principal residence, as well as the first $10,000 in gains for individuals and first $20,000 for married couples. His proposal also would extend beer, and business and occupation tax surcharges – due to expire next year – until the end of 2015. He expects to introduce legislation next week.