On February 3rd, the Beacon published an article called, “Liias pursuing small business agenda in Olympia.” There were a number of bills that had been introduced to provide tax credits to small businesses for hiring employees and securing financing for small business. Though I haven’t had an opportunity to read through each bill individually, the thrust of the article showed a positive step in helping those of us struggling with expanding our businesses or just keeping them afloat.
I was taken off guard though when I read a Seattle Times article on Feb. 8th entitled, “Major Tax Polluter Bills Introduced in Olympia.” This article showcased two bills, House Bill 3181 which was sponsored by Mr. Liias and Ms. Roberts from the 21 Voting District which includes many of your readers and Senate Bill 6851 which was sponsored by Mr. Shin. The bill, though touted as a tax on polluters to clean up Puget Sound, is simply a tax on small business owners and their employees who will ultimately bear the brunt of this legislation.
The house bill is going to increase a tax which is already levied on oil refineries but the bill makes no provision to make the refinery the ultimate payor of the tax. The refinery will simply add it as a cost of good sold and ship the tax down the line to the end consumers at the pump. Governor Gregoire stated that the tax had not been increased since 1988, but due to the fact that she has a motor pool to drive her around, I think she may be unaware of the actual cost of a tank of gas is these days when the local stations are already charging $2.90/gallon.
My real sticking point on this bill isn’t necessarily that it raises the taxes on the back of small business and employees trying to commute to work, but that the tax does not protect the environment. Mr. Liias and Ms. Roberts have written into new section 2 paragraph 6 that the tax being levied on the state oil refineries is not payable to an account that will go toward taking care of our Puget Sound. Rather, the funds from the effective date of the bill until 2015, a full five years, will go directly into the General Fund. There is a request that the funds be used on environmental matters, but because of the fungible nature of cash in the General fund, those monies will easily be used at the discretion of the legislature to meet other burdens.
This legislation, in my opinion, is ethically deficient. It subverts tax payer dollars in the name of the environment to close budget gaps in the General Fund. If you need our money to close budget gaps, write legislation that does that in the open. Don’t hide behind our Puget Sound like a bunch of cowards! This course of bill writing directly contravenes the good Mr. Liias was trying to create with his “small business agenda,” and smacks of underhanded political tactics that ultimately injure the small business and its employees. I ask the readers to let our state representatives in this district know, that such ethically challenged legislation will not be tolerated and should be retracted.
Nicholas D. Fisher
1604 Hewitt Avenue Suite 601
Everett, WA 98201
Tel: (425) 314-6737
Chopp likes polluter tax; refineries lobby Gregoire
Liias pursuing small business agenda in Olympia
Major polluter tax bills introduced in Olympia
House Bill 3181