Gov. Inslee Wants To Put $200 Million More Into Education For Supplies, Teacher COLAs

Jan 28, 2014

Gov. Jay Inslee is making another push for lawmakers to close tax exemptions to fund education. The Democrat made his pitch Tuesday, but there’s no indication the mostly Republican majority in the Washington Senate can be persuaded.

The money would pay for the reforms the Legislature has already approved, including a 1.3 percent salary increase for teachers and staff. The governor said the money will include sending $130 million to K-12 public schools to pay for textbooks, computers and curriculum updates.

Inslee first proposed closing several tax exemptions last March. His goal then was to raise about $1 billion for schools. In the end, the Legislature eliminated one exemption for local telephone service. Now Inslee is dusting off his old list.

“Under my plan, we would close seven current tax breaks which will generate more than $200 million per year in new funding,” Inslee said.

Items on the governor’s list include eliminating the sales tax exemption for shoppers from Oregon and other no-sales-tax states. Inslee would also repeal the sales tax exemption for bottled water.

Republican Andy Hill, who chairs the Senate budget committee, says tax breaks are hard to close, especially in a 60-day, election year session.

“It has to be done very carefully, very thoughtfully and that’s something that’s very hard to do in a short session,” Hill said.

The Washington Supreme Court has imposed the deadline of April 30 for the Legislature and governor to come up with a plan to fully fund public school by 2018.