Tax bill brings lawmakers together
OLYMPIA — Local legislators are cooperating more by geography than by party on a bill that could bring an estimated $4 million into Clark County.Senate Bill 5325, which seeks to add Clark County to a list of “rural” counties that receive .09 percent of their sales taxes back each year, has received support from both Democrats and Republicans from Southwest Washington. House Bill 1553 is the companion bill.Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who introduced the bill, was optimistic about the collaboration. Sens. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, Don Benton, R-Vancouver, Curtis King, R-Yakima, are also sponsors of the bill.“We can always find middle ground for our constituents,” said Benton.Cleveland was quick to clarify the .09 percent revenue sharing is not a tax increase.“It does not increase taxes in any way, it merely returns .09 percent back to the county,” she said.Cleveland estimated that more than $4 million could be brought back into the county each year if the bill passes.The money would be “used to finance public facilities serving economic development purposes,” according to the language of the bill.“(The money) would … bring in longer term permanent jobs,” said Rivers.“It’s a great bill … focused on getting jobs into the state,” said Benton.Resistance anticipatedHowever, it seems the spirit of support and bipartisanship may not be shared by the rest of the Legislature, according to Rivers.“I’m not getting a sense on the Senate side that it is going to be a priority for our Ways and Means Committee,” she said. Rivers is a member of that committee.Benton agreed, saying: “It will probably meet stiff resistance in the Ways and Means Committee.”“They will be hard pressed to give up more money,” he added.Benton described financial resistance as being “probably the largest hurdle” for the bill.However, the bill must first pass in the Trade and Economic Development Committee in order to be heard on the Senate floor.John Braun, R-Centralia, is the chair of the committee, which has a Republican majority.Braun’s 20th District dips slightly into Clark County, just above Battle Ground.Braun is not listed as a sponsor of the bill.The House, which has a Democratic majority, may have an easier time passing the bill. House Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, has sponsored the House bill along with other Democrats and Republicans from Clark County.“I don’t see as much resistance in the House,” Rivers said.