Washington State Considers Mystery Tax Bill

February 9, 2010

Amber Gunn of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center report on shadowy things afoot in Olympia:

SB 6853 was introduced today and also scheduled for a public hearing today at 1:30 in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The bill is titled “Relating to creating the legislative review of tax preferences act of 2010.” It has only one section and it looks like this:

NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. This act shall be known and cited as the legislative review of tax preferences act of 2010.

— END —

How is the public supposed to comment on a title-only bill? How is anyone supposed to know what the bill does? Why would a committee even bother to hold a public hearing on a title-only bill?

Senate Committee Rule 45 requires at least five days notice before a public hearing is held. But this one, of course, gets suspended more often than not. The current bill is no exception.

There’s already a tax expenditure review committee, so who knows what this will actually be.

Washington’s state government has a large gap between revenue and expenditures, and a number of proposals have been floated for tax increases or spending reductions. Secrecy is not the route Washington should be taking with these vital questions. (One proposal, which would eliminate the legislative supermajority requirement is particularly ill-advised: making it easier to ram bad ideas through with less debate isn’t exactly the path to good fiscal practices, as I testified in Maryland last year.)

More on Washington State here.

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