susanrobb.com Susan Robb used a 4Culture grant to take this installation, titled "Warmth, Giant Black Toobs" on tour. If the legislature doesn't act soon, those
Late last night, the state legislature approved new taxes and budget cuts needed to balance a $2.8 billion shortfall in the general fund. Among other things, we will now pay an extra 50 cents per gallon of non-microbrew beer. (Sorry Bud drinkers). By 1:15 this morning, both chambers had adjourned and weary lawmakers headed home.
susanrobb.com Susan Robb used a 4Culture grant to take this installation, titled "Warmth, Giant Black Toobs" on tour. If the legislature doesn't act soon, those grants will disappear.
Figuring out how to close the budget gap was the primary objective of this legislative session. As a result, legislators pushed many other issues aside, abandoning bills in committee. Among the legislation left stranded was a measure that would have allowed SW managing editor Mike Seely to be buried with his beloved cats.
There was other (in some cases, slightly more important) work that also didn't get done during this year's session.
Workers' Compensation: As we detailed in a January feature, small business owners face dramatic and irregular workers'-comp insurance hikes every year. But without any consensus between business groups and organized labor on how to reform the system, the legislature put off the issue for at least another year.
Tax Reform: The state got into this budget mess in part thanks to our high dependence on sales tax. The recession hit, people stopped spending, and the state budget was screwed. But as Rick Anderson discovered, there are $98.5 billion in tax exemptions for various businesses that the state isn't collecting. But most efforts at dramatic tax reform also got nowhere. Instead the legislature nickeled and dimed its way to a balanced budget by raising taxes on candy, cigarettes, and beer.
4Culture Funding: "The one thing I would have liked to have gotten done this year and didn't is finally unwinding how we pay for arts in King County," Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) says. Back in 1995, in order to sweeten the deal to pay for the stadiums, the legislature said that a small percentage of the hotel-motel taxes created to pay off the bonds would go to the arts. The tax is now generating $8 million to $10 million annually for murals and sculptures, which is distributed by the King County arts organization 4Culture.
But when the bonds are paid off in 2015, if not sooner, that tax revenue goes away. And a bill that would have allowed 4Culture to keep drawing on the hotel-motel tax for the grants currently funded by the tax died in committee.