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Washington special session begins with review of temporary sales tax increase

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November 30, 2011

By Bailey Ludlam


OLYPMIA, Washington: Washington voters may head to the ballots in March 2012 to vote on a temporary sales tax increase. Just this week the Washington State Legislature convened for a special session to review a proposal made by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The measure would implement a temporary, half-cent sales tax increase in efforts to close the $2 billion budget shortfall. It is estimated that it would raise $500 million a year. New revenue would be used to restore cuts made in the proposed budget; including K-12, higher education, health care, prisons, and social programs.[1]

The proposal was presented to the Senate budget panel on November 29, 2011.[1]

According to news reports, the governor is aiming for the proposal to be on a March 13, 2012 special election ballot. This would require a decision by the legislature by December 30, 2011.[2] In order to place the measure on the statewide ballot, the measure requires a simple majority vote in both the House and the Senate.

If approved, the sales tax increase would mark the first sales tax increase in the State of Washington in 28 years. Additionally, Washington would be tied with five other states for the second-highest state sales tax (7 percent) according to the Washington Department of Revenue.[3]

A recent poll by The Elway Poll revealed that 43 percent were "certainly willing" and 21 percent were "probably willing" to accept the Governor's plan. A total of 408 registered voters were randomly selected for the poll. It had a 5 percent margin of error.[4]

To read the governor's proposed 2012 supplemental budget, click here.

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