April 8, 2019
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Spokane voters may have chance to weigh in on city income tax ban and public view of collective bargaining

This evening the Spokane City Council will hear two initiatives submitted by Better Spokane, a business-friendly political group, that would give voters a chance to decide on subjects related to taxes and collective bargaining.

The first initiative would bar the city from ever passing an income tax. Such a measure would be an insurance policy in case the state Supreme Court overturns precedent and allows an income tax, said Better Spokane Director Michael Cathcart.

The second initiative would require the city's unions to make their negotiations public. Cathcart said that because personnel costs are one of the city's biggest expenses, taxpayers -- and rank-and-file union members -- should be able to see the process of negotiation between the city and unions.

“It’s a win-win across the board,” he said. “We know the public really wants transparency.”

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said that Better Spokane would have to gather signatures to put the union measure on the ballot. However, Stuckart said the council might just approve the income tax measure without sending it to voters.

“We’re never going to institute an income tax in the city of Spokane,” he said. “I’ve never had a conversation with anyone at the city about that.”

The Spokesman-Review has more.

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Practical Education

Expand career-connected learning across Washington state

By Maud Daudon

If you're a Washington business owner or manager wondering where to find skilled workers, you're not alone. And if you're a Washington parent or high school student, wondering how to get from school to a great job, you're not alone either.

You may also be the solution to each other's problem.

Last summer, the Career Connect Washington initiative convened groups of parents to discuss education and career preparation in Washington state. As part of a 10-year effort, we are learning how to better help students connect to both jobs and advanced education so they will be well positioned to step into the state's job market. Business, labor and education organizations are all stepping up; we need the Legislature to act as well...

Read the full guest column in The Seattle Times
Fiscally Unwise

A Capital Gains Tax Would Not Improve Budget Sustainability

By The Washington Research Council

Although the March revenue forecast increased estimated state revenues for the 2017-19 and 2019-21 biennia, the House Appropriations Committee Chair proposed a new capital gains tax along with his 2019-21 operating budget. The Senate is also considering a capital gains tax, although in this case the proceeds would be used to reduce other taxes rather than to increase the operating budget.

A capital gains tax would be highly volatile. Taxpayers can arrange their affairs to avoid them, and the value of capital gains realized by Washington taxpayers varies significantly year to year. Also, swings in capital gains are much bigger in percentage terms than swings in state sales tax revenue. Volatile taxes require stronger reserves to manage downturns, but the House bill would avoid constitutionally-required transfers to the rainy day fund by directing revenues from the tax to the education legacy trust account.

Additionally, a capital gains tax would certainly be challenged as an unconstitutional income tax. Even if it were eventually found to be constitutional, a court case would likely mean that any revenues would be suspended until after 2019-21. Building the budget around such a tax would be risky at best...

Read the full report from the Washington Research Council
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