Governor proposes $4 billion in new tax revenue, with much of it to fully fund education, related costs

TACOMA, Wash. -- Gov. Jay Inslee wants to raise some taxes and create new taxes to improve schools across the state.

At Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Inslee on Tuesday laid out his plan to fully fund the states's basic education requirements. In his proposal, Inslee seeks more than $4 billion in new revenue, with a majority of it — about $3.9 billion — dedicated to education-related costs.

The new revenue he seeks includes:

—An increase in the Business and Occupation (B&O) tax on services provided by accountants.

—A carbon tax that would charge the state's emitters $25 per metric ton starting in 2018, raising $2 billion, of which $1 billion would go toward the education plan

—A 7.9 percent capital gains tax on earnings from the sale of stocks, bonds and other assets above $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for those who file jointly.

The plan includes raising teacher salaries by as much as $19,000 and increasing the number of counselors in schools, counselors like Michelle Ha.

“We were spending a lot of time serving basic needs and not academic needs or social and emotional needs,” said Ha.

In the past year. Lincoln High added the Community and Family Liaison position, which is now filled by Ha, to help keep students focus on learning by providing students with basic needs, like food.

“I think anyone who’s sat at their desk or at school hungry or worried about where they are going to sleep at night would say that’s why it’s so important," said Ha said.

It’s positions like this the governor wants more funding for.

The governor acknowledged his $3.9 billion plan would be a tough sell.

“This is big. This is bold and this is the right thing to do,” said Inslee.

He plans to get that money in several ways. He says he would close five outdated tax breaks, like the one on the sale of bottled water. Also, he would raise taxes in certain sectors.

“The wealthiest Washingtonians would pay a little bit more in the very modest capital gains tax,” said Inslee.

He then wants to revisit the tax on pollution.

“I propose we put a tax on carbon pollution, which also has the benefit of promising our children cleaner air,“ said Inslee.

He also is asking for an increase in the Business and Occupation (B&O) tax rate. While increasing the exemption threshold to benefit small business, the governor says, this plan would also lower taxes in some areas.

“We can lower the local property taxes in many school districts,” said Inslee.

It's a plan the governor hopes to get passed by the Legislature as quickly as possible.

The Republican-led Senate is expected to deliver its proposed state budget in March with the House to follow with its own.

Inslee said he will be meeting with leaders from both parties to let them know why he believes his proposal is the one best for Washington families.

The Association for Washington Business issued a statement on the governor's proposal. It said, in part:

“The uneven economy has left many Washingtonians behind the booming Seattle job market. The tax proposals in the governor’s education plan would further erode the state’s ability to protect and preserve good-paying jobs."