Washington Governor Seeks Property Tax Limit Reinstatement

November 27, 2007

Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) has called a special legislative session to reinstate the 1 percent property tax cap invalidated by the state supreme court, as we reported here. The governor's previous plan of merely asking the local governments not to tax more didn't work:

Gregoire has urged local governments to continue heeding the 1 percent cap. The governor said Monday that she decided to call the Legislature into session because a handful of local governments said they planned to take advantage of the Supreme Court decision and raise taxes above the cap.

"I'd hoped that local governments would feel as I did. They couldn't give me the guarantee, and that was the tipping point," she said.

Another proposal would allow middle-income homeowners to defer up to one-quarter of their property taxes, with interest.

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate support the proposal. Their party holds large majorities in both chambers.

But Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, wasn't impressed with the idea, noting the hefty interest. "I don't know what it's going to do for people," he said. "I'm not particularly fond of deferrals."

House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, said the measure could help some people in a bind keep their house. She said the income cap would be high enough to help the middle class.

More on the Washington Supreme Court decision here. More on why “tax policy for the middle class” increases complexity here.

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