‘We got scoped’April 26th, 2009 by Steven Gardner
Derek Kilmer, Gig Harbor Senate Democrat, and fellow Gig Harborian Larry Seaquist, also a Democrat on the House side, failed in another effort to get sales taxes exempted from Tacoma Narrows bridge tolls.
Here’s the story. Kilmer and Seaquist have tried several times to get the sales tax exemption, arguing that bridge toll payers should not be paying sales taxes that go into the state’s general fund. Each time it gets killed in Senate committee, particularly Ways & Means. That’s where budget-related bills go, and Committee Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, can see how much impact that would have on the general fund and there the idea dies.
So Kilmer writes a bill this year calling for a narrowing definition of how bridge toll money can be spent. Mostly, it’s to pay off bonds it took to get the bridge built. Seaquist, in the House, adds an amendment exempting the bridge from sales taxes, which are scheduled to begin getting paid in 2013. The House passes it.
The next step is getting it to the Senate floor. The new bill went to Senate Rules and onto the floor, farther than the sales tax issue had ever traveled. State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, transportation committee chairwoman, asked the lieutenant governor whether the sales tax measure met the scope of the underlying bill.
Sunday afternoon Brad Owen, said lieutenant governor, said it didn’t.
“We got scoped,” Kilmer said as he left the Senate chamber.
The pair said they have another year to get the idea passed before it has to be reported with a fiscal note, which basically means someone would have to calculate how much it would cost.
House Transportation Chair, Judy Clibborn, said a few minutes ago Republicans have crafted language that might do the trick. It would apply to all tolling projects. Look for it in 2010.