Balancing The Budget
5:51 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Wash. Democrats May Find Path To Avoid Sales Tax Measure

BalaOLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington legislature are suddenly hopeful they can rebalance the state budget without asking voters to approve a tax hike. Their optimism comes even before they see the latest revenue forecast out Thursday.

For majority Democrats the budget stars could be aligning. A new caseload forecast shows demand for state services is down. That means the current $900 million budget hole drops to less than $600 million. Plus, House Republicans have reversed their position and now support ending a tax break for out of state banks. If the new revenue forecast is positive, lawmakers could bank that money too. So what does this all mean? There might be a path for Democrats to avoid the governor’s proposal to ask voters to approve a half-penny sales tax hike. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown chooses her words carefully.

Brown: “A strategy that does things in Olympia is preferable to going to the ballot and so that’s what we’re looking at.”

But she quickly adds:

Brown: “We certainly haven’t ruled out going to the ballot.”

Democrats say they’ve seen polls that show Washington voters are cool to the sales tax. However, Governor Chris Gregoire is still pushing that idea.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network