WA Lawmakers Debate Tax Increase to Fund College Grants Until 2AM Before Passing
Democrats in the state House and Senate passed a series of tax packages in the wee hours of the morning just before the legislature adjourned for 2019. Republicans called it one of the most shocking abuses of voter trust in decades.
According to various reports out of Olympia, the biggest of these was House Bill 2158. The bill, according to Democrats, was necessary to expand college grants. The bill, if signed by Gov. Inslee into law, would replace the well known and current Washington State Need Grant Program (WSNGP).
The program allows students planning to attend public college or universities in WA state to apply for grant money. It uses family income, number of people in households, and other factors to determine eligibility. Under HB2158, the WSNGP would be replaced by a newer, expanded program.
According to data released by the National Federation of Business, at least 40 different types of industries or businesses would be slapped with a new Business and Occupation (B&O) tax system -- some areas by as much as 20 percent. The industries to be taxed include tech, computer firms, financial institutions, insurance companies, medical companies, energy utilities and more.
The bill would result in a nearly $1 billion tax increase (over the next two years) of the state budget. Republican legislators debated for at least three hours trying to persuade their colleagues to vote against it or at least amend it to find compromises, but to no avail. The bill passed.
GOP legislators had argued the size and scope of the increases would curtail job growth and drive hundreds of businesses and companies out of state.
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