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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

May 6, 2013 at 11:28 AM

State analysis shows King County pays more in taxes than it gets

Democratic State Rep. Reuven Carlyle released a new state analysis showing King County is a large net exporter of tax dollars to the rest of the state.

Carlyle, of Seattle, contends there’s a misconception in the Legislature and elsewhere “that tax dollars are consumed by city living, whether that’s social programs or subsidizing various services more common in the city. The cold hard reality is that the numbers are the complete opposite of that.”tax dollars

For example, the analysis indicates Yakima County received $649 million in state expenditures in fiscal year 2011, but generated only $346 million in tax revenue. By comparison, King County received $3.4 billion in state general fund expenditures but generated $5.9 billion in tax revenue, according to the report prepared by the state Office of Financial Management.

Those numbers comes from a composite analysis on page 4 of the report. Carlyle has broached this topic before, but says it’s worth reminding people.

“Here we go into the final budget negotiations and there are these vociferous demands for no new taxes, closing exemptions or anything and yet some of those loudest voices are from those who represent communities who … enjoy a level of spending that they value greatly,” said Carlyle who chairs the House Finance Committee.

The Legislature will go into special session on May 13 to tackle the state budget, among other issues. The key question lawmakers are fighting over is whether to raise additional tax revenue by closing tax breaks or extending existing taxes due to expire this summer.

House and Senate Republicans have argued against any additional tax revenue. The GOP controls the state Senate. Democrats control the House and governor’s office.

Carlyle says that not only have Republicans opposed raising new tax revenue statewide, they’re also arguing against allowing King County to increase taxes locally.

GOP state Rep. Gary Alexander, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee said there’s a hole in Carlyle’s argument, namely that “in terms of the ability of individuals to pay increased taxes the more rural districts are the ones which have the highest unemployment rate … so the imposition of more taxes on … marginal income levels is what I consider to be the more difficult situation.”

Alexander said he understands Carlyle’s point about local option taxes, but voters still view allowing local option taxes as a tax increase, adding “many times we’ve authorized those taxes and they never have done it.”

Comments | More in Politics Northwest, State budget, State Legislature | Topics: Gary Alexander, legislature, Rep. Reuven Carlyle


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