Topic: Gary Alexander
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August 28, 2013 at 4:48 PM
Consumers in Washington state pay the fourth highest sales taxes in the country, according to a new data from the Tax Foundation.
The report on combined state and local sales taxes put Washington’s average rate at 8.87 percent — a 6.5 percent state tax plus an average 2.37 percent local tax rate. In Seattle, the standard local rate is 3.0 percent, including 0.4 percent to the regional transit authority.
Washington’s combined average rate placed behind only Tennessee (9.44 percent), Arkansas (9.18 percent) and Louisiana (8.89 percent), according to the nonpartisan national think tank.
The outcome is no surprise, given that Washington is one of nine states without an individual income tax (Tennessee is another). But local Republicans still seized on the study as evidence that the sales tax should be lowered.
“We should continue to find opportunities to provide relief and create some incentives to our businesses to promote good economic growth and jobs,” said state Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, the ranking Republican on the state House Budget Committee. “This continued push to increase that sales tax would just do more to discourage economic growth in our state.”
Democratic state Rep. Reuven Carlyle disagreed, citing recent state Department of Revenue information that ranked Washington 36th for overall state and local tax burden when compared to income.
“Because we’re one of the only states in the country without an income tax, of course we have a high reliance on sales taxes, so this is hardly an intellectually interesting sliver of news,” Carlyle, D-Seattle, the chairman of the state House Finance Committee, wrote in an email. “The more substantive question is whether we are on the path toward being a low tax, low service, low quality of life state because of our reluctance to invest adequate resources in public education, transportation, universities, parks, Puget Sound cleanup and more. We’re among the most educated, engaged, progressive and courageous 21st Century states, yet our tax policy is frozen in a 20th Century patchwork of inefficiency.”
Three states do not have any state or local sales taxes, according to the Tax Foundation: Oregon, Delaware and New Hampshire. Alaska and Montana do not have a state sales tax but do have local sales taxes.
May 6, 2013 at 11:28 AM
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.”
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.”
March 14, 2013 at 3:28 PM
OLYMPIA — State House Republicans unveiled an education budget proposal Thursday that would increase K-12 spending by $556 million without raising taxes over the next two years.
The budget would dedicate $817 million to respond to a state Supreme Court order to increase basic education funding, including by expanding full-day kindergarten, reducing class sizes in kindergarten through third grade and increasing class time. But it would simultaneously remove $347 million, mostly by continuing the suspension of Initiative 732, a 2000 measure that mandates annual cost-of-living raises for teachers.
The budget proposal also calls for an additional $86 million for policy changes.
To get the extra money into education — and address a now roughly $1.3 billion budget shortfall — House Republicans would accept Medicaid expansion paid for by the federal government, continue the suspension of family leave for state employees and make other cuts to the Department of Health and Social Services.
The budget also would find about $100 million in government “efficiencies” through a 2 percent cut to state agencies, would make about $200 million in budget transfers and would net about $80 million by eliminating a tax break for telecommunications companies.
House GOP budget writer Gary Alexander called it a “balanced approach.”
“I’m convinced that when we finish up in 105 days, we can balance this budget with reforms, resizing and reduction without new tax increases,” Alexander, R-Olympia, said at a news conference.
The budget has little chance of becoming law, as Republicans are at a 43-to-55 minority in the House. But it offers a window into the thinking of the GOP, which runs the state Senate.
Senate Republicans have been reluctant to say how much more money they want to dedicate to education, so far only offering a window of between $500 million and $1.5 billion.
Many Democrats, especially in the House, believe the court order mandates additional spending as high as $1.7 billion.
In a statement, House Democratic budget-writer Ross Hunter criticized Alexander’s proposal, in part by noting the proposal would barely set anything aside for reserves.
“My initial reaction is that this proposal is more like a press release than a budget,” said Hunter, D-Medina. “Budgets require you to make decisions about balancing competing demands – this document does not do that.”
January 30, 2013 at 6:00 AM
A new take on Rodney Tom conversion? The new leader in the state Senate, he of the Majority Coalition Caucus, is an enigma for some Democrats who wonder how he can call himself a Democrat when he joined with Republicans to form the Republican-leaning group. Republican John Carlson has an interesting piece on Tom in Crosscut.
What do you think of the bill to change the state code to use gender-neutral language? Bye bye, firemen, fishermen and other such terms. If I am not mistaken, the University of Washington Daily has done something similar.
High marks for Washington’s charter school law. The charter bill is brand new and implementation will take time. But still the bill wins high marks for the way it is drafted. No. 3 in the country, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Oregon going to pot, well, maybe sometime. The Oregonian says Oregon could be one of the next couple of states to legalize marijuana , perhaps in 2014 or 2016. Oregon had a pot measure on the ballot this past year, but the measure was very broad and did not pass voter muster.
Good days and bad days, bad mornings followed by better afternoons: Tuesday morning, state Rep. Gary Alexander was part of an AP inquiry into lawmakers’ expense reports, dry cleaning expenses, to be specific. The story included Alexander’s cleaning bill. Uh oh.
Later in the afternoon, Alexander was announced as as the new Thurston County auditor, filling a spot vacated by Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Question for Alexander: Does he intend to become Secretary of State? Just asking. Both Wyman and former Secretary of State Sam Reed were Thurston County auditor before becoming Secretary of State.
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January 29, 2013 at 8:22 PM
From The Olympian:
The Thurston County commission unanimously chose state Rep. Gary Alexander on Tuesday to replace newly elected Secretary of State Kim Wyman as county auditor.
The Olympia Republican will serve as auditor until the November election. Then, he will have to run to retain the seat. He said if he is elected in November, he will consider resigning from the state Legislature.
Alexander began working in the Auditor’s Office during Sam Reed’s final six months of service 12½ years ago.
Alexander was selected over Olympia real estate agent Carol Person, the Thurston County Republicans’ top choice. The commission chose from a field of Republicans because Wyman is a Republican.
The third candidate, Yelm Mayor Ron Harding, pulled out of the running Monday, citing the desire to focus on “several high impact issues still unresolved” in Yelm, according to a letter addressed to the commissioners
I feel that even though becoming the next auditor would be a great honor, leaving my responsibilities as mayor at such a critical time would not be honorable,” Harding said in the letter, citing the city’s various road projects, water rights and the city’s park master plan.
Commissioners said they chose Alexander for his experience working in the Auditor’s Office and time as a legislator.
“Our job is to find a person we feel has the best qualifications and can hit the ground running,” said Commissioner Cathy Wolfe.
Alexander is looking to a four- or five-year plan as auditor, hoping to continue to move the Auditor’s Office to paperless filing and streamline the county’s election process.
January 29, 2013 at 10:14 AM
The Associated Press
A few days after Washington lawmakers approved a budget deal to lower state spending last year, small-government Rep. Gary Alexander got $40.60 worth of dry cleaning done. Then he made sure taxpayers paid the bill.
Alexander, the Republican budget writer in the state House, billed more than $500 worth of dry-cleaning fees to the state over the past two years, according to an Associated Press analysis of thousands of expense reimbursements. He wasn’t alone: At least 7 Democrats and 12 Republicans in the Legislature requested and received compensation totaling $5,500 for dry cleaning since the start of 2011.
Here’s the full story by Mike Baker of The Associated Press.
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