Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to veto a section of the state budget compromise that would have lowered the business and occupation tax rate by 40 percent for about 10,000 manufacturing firms in Washington has Republicans feeling they were bamboozled.
And, based solely on principle rather than whether one favors or rejects that specific tax cut, the GOP might have a point. After all, the budget deal between the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-led Senate was built on give-and-take bargaining.
The tax cut, which would essentially set the B&O tax for manufacturers at the same rate granted to Boeing and other aerospace companies in 2003, was a concession made to Republicans by Democrats.
When Inslee used his line-item veto power to nix the tax cut, Senate Republicans saw it as Democrats going back on their word.
Actually, Inslee wasn’t behind closed doors in the secret negotiations, nor did he agree to the tax cut. He did what he believes is right.
We, however, take exception to the veto as the tax cut seems fair. Why shouldn’t small manufacturers get the same break as mega-manufactuers?
And the tax breaks could have led to those manufacturers expanding, which would create more jobs.
Still, the blame for not sticking with the bargain falls primarily to Democrats in the Legislature who didn’t communicate strongly enough the need to keep the tax with Inslee, a fellow Democrat.
In fact, based on news reporting, House Speaker Frank Chopp was ambivalent regarding Inslee’s veto. The Seattle Times reported he said legislative leaders agreed to the tax cut during budget talks, but noted “it came in late.” He said there were “legitimate concerns” with the process, but said he did not pressure Inslee one way or the other on the measure.
However, 23 Democratic state representatives signed a letter calling for the veto, citing a lack of analysis and public notice before the passage of the tax cut.
As a result, the GOP’s chief budget negotiator, Sen. John Braun of Centralia, told The Times, “I think this makes future negotiations virtually impossible, frankly.”
That’s concerning because lawmakers are still trying to work out a deal on the capital — as in construction projects — budget.
The whole deal is a mess.
But lawmakers from both parties should have seen some sort of post-approval fracas coming when they agreed to negotiate in secret and then not release the details of the compromise plan until the day it needed to be approved.
The public had effectively no time to comment on the proposal in a way that would change anything. This budget was a done deal the second it was agreed to behind closed doors.
It’s a lousy way to do the people’s business. Taxpayers/voters should have been involved in the process from start to finish.