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

January 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Inslee proposes closing tax breaks to fund education

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday proposed closing several tax breaks to put an additional $200 million into K-12 education between now and the end of the 2015 fiscal year.

Closing the tax breaks, including repealing exemptions for bottled water and janitorial services, is also projected to bring in another $414 million during the next two-year budget that lawmakers will write next year.

While House Democrats support putting more money into education this year, Republicans, who control the Senate, argue the Legislature can wait.

Inslee, during his state of the state address earlier this month, proposed increasing education funding, noting the state Supreme Court recently warned lawmakers they weren’t moving fast enough to meet a court mandate on K-12 spending.

The justices ordered the Legislature to show “through immediate, concrete action that it is making real and measurable progress, not simply promises.”

The proposal Inslee laid out Tuesday details how he would raise the money and where it would go. The governor proposes spending $130 million on basic K-12 materials and operations starting next school year. Another $74 million would go to a cost-of-living increase for teachers.

Inslee’s budget office said the current starting pay allocated by the state for teachers is $34,048, down from $34,426 five years ago. The cost-of-living increase would bring pay back to roughly where it was previously, according to the governor’s office.

Republican leaders say there’s no need to hurry because the Legislature put an additional $1 billion into education last year.

It’s unlikely Inslee’s tax break proposal will get far in the Senate given the GOP opposition. Here are the exemptions Inslee wants to close or change:

  • Repeal sales tax exemption for trade-ins valued over $10,000
  • Repeal public-utility-tax deduction for in-state portion of interstate transportation
  • Repeal use tax exemption for extracted fuel (except hog fuel)
  • Refund state portion of sales tax to nonresidents
  • Repeal sales tax exemption on bottled water
  • Repeal sales tax exemption for janitorial services
  • Repeal preferential business and occupation tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs

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