Among the revenue-shrinking bills is one sponsored by Rep. Reuven Carlyle, whose district extends to the Woodland Park Zoo, home of the controversial pachyderm insemination program. Carlyle's legislation would extend a state business tax exemption for arts organizations to both the zoo and the Seattle Aquarium.
But Carlyle's concern here is fairness. During the last decade, the City of Seattle turned over management of both animal-viewing facilities to non-profits organizations. Unlike governments, non-profits have to pay some state business taxes, unless they qualify as a cultural or arts organization.
Neither the zoo nor the aquarium fits the "cultural" bill under state law. But Carlyle believes both should. Speaking specifically of the zoo, he says by phone from Olympia: "obviously, it's a treasure, not just in Seattle, but statewide."
If Carlyle can get the exemption into the final budget bill, or passed independently, the state stands to lose $378,000 over the next four years, according to the state Office of Financial Management. No word yet from Woodland Park on whether or not that's enough extra cash to get Chai the Elephant knocked up again if it doesn't work out this time.