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Why Republican Sen. Dino Rossi sponsored biggest tax increase in WA history

LISTEN: Dino Rossi explains his tax proposal

KTTH’s Todd Herman was panicked. What would cause State Senator Dino Rossi, a lifelong fiscal conservative and friend of the show, to be the prime sponsor on a vote for the biggest tax increase in the state’s history?

RELATED: State Legislature is ‘most disappointing’ to Gov. Inslee

Well, as Rossi explains it, to make a point.

“I have prime sponsored the biggest tax increase in Washington state history, and what it is is a carbon copy of the House tax plan that they refused to vote on,” Rossi explained to Herman on Friday.

“The whole point is that we know that these taxes will not pass here, they won’t pass in the Senate, and they won’t take a vote in the House, which is why the House budget is $11 billion out of balance.”

Lawmakers worked Friday but were no closer to finalizing a budget by Sunday’s end of the Regular Session, which is why Gov. Jay Inslee called a special session to begin Monday morning. This is the third straight year that Legislature has needed a special session.

Gov. Jay Inslee criticized the Republicans for not being willing to negotiate on the budget.

“I’m doing everything I can humanly imagine to do, short of waterboarding, to get these folks to negotiate,” Inslee said. “But the Republicans have refused, to date.”

Rossi, the former gubernatorial candidate who was appointed to a legislative seat after Sen. Andy Hill died of cancer late last year, disagreed with that notion. The Republican Senator said the Democratic budget proposal is off by $11 billion. He figures that the House Democrats’ budget includes $8 billion in the new taxes that they won’t pass off the legislative floor because they don’t have the votes for it, plus another $3 billion worth of items that were supposed to be reductions from the budget that hasn’t been brought to the floor.

“This is a real problem. You can’t negotiate with yourself,” Rossi said. “So if we bring this to the floor and demonstrate to the world that those votes aren’t there, then maybe we can get that nonsense off the table and really get down to some negotiations.”

Rossi said his bill featured the entire Democrat tax package, including the Governor’s capital gain’s income tax and B&O tax increase, as well as exact language from the House Democrats’ plan over top. He expected there would be a “no” vote from all 25 Republicans, plus some Democrats.

“Just to show that this isn’t really real. You can’t do that, and you can’t run around and say, ‘I’ve got the votes, I’ve got the votes,’ which is what the (Speaker of the House Frank Chopp is) doing,” Rossi said. “It’s sheer silliness and it’s time to stop the charade. So, yes, your friend Dino Rossi, prime sponsored the biggest tax increase in Washington state history.”

Despite how it might seem, though, Rossi said he’s not playing games.

“It’s just being straight forward and honest about it. Can we do this or not? Is it politically possible or not?” he asked. “Well, the answer, we know, is not, but we have to prove it to the world. And hopefully, the House will come around to understanding before July in the second or third special session to do this.”

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