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John Batchelor

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State Senator wants to stop Seattle from implementing a head tax

(File, Associated Press)

As the Seattle City Council’s proposed employee head tax continues to take shape, a legislator in Olympia would love to throw a wrench into the plans.

State Senator Mark Schoesler, a Republican from Ritzville, told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz he’s worried about the impact this kind of tax would have on jobs in the state.

“If we chase great employers out of Seattle, we lose the revenue and the jobs for King County and the entire state,” Schoesler said. “That’s where I have to get involved.”

The state Legislature does have the ability to revoke local taxing authority, and they already prohibit city governments from taxing gasoline and insurance. Schoesler told Rantz he absolutely wants to put a stop to this tax, too, if he can.

“There’s a prohibition on local income tax,” Schoesler said. “I think it should be clarified that a regressive per-head tax on employers is prohibited unless authorized by the Legislature.”

There’s also the question of legality.

“We have concerns about whether it really is legal to have a head tax in the state of Washington,” Schoesler said. “Most local taxes are authorized in statute and added over the years. This one I think is a gray area.”

Although it’s wildly difficult to get accurate counts of homeless populations, most indicators suggest the homelessness issue in Seattle has gotten markedly worst in recent years. In a press release, Schoesler attributed this to runaway taxing and irresponsible spending on the part of the city.

If the goal is to reduce homelessness, perhaps we should take a closer look at how Seattle spends the money it already gets because clearly the efforts have been largely ineffective. The solution is not to threaten jobs with taxes, which would put even more people on the street.

Any legislation would still have to pass through both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s desk. All three are currently controlled by Democrats, but Schoesler holds out hope.

“I think if it was brought to the floor of both bodies it would almost certainly pass,” Schoesler said. “Now, of course, the Speaker is from Seattle and he has a choice whether he wants to bring it up or not, but if I’m majority leader in January, I’m very, very ready to bring that to the floor.”

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