Senator June Robinson speaks for SB 5096
Senator June Robinson speaks for SB 5096

Today was a big day for pro­gres­sive tax reform in Wash­ing­ton State.

For the first time ever, a pro­pos­al to levy a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy and invest the rev­enue into our under­fund­ed soci­etal needs was approved by the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate’s Ways & Means Com­mit­tee, the pow­er­ful bud­get writ­ing com­mit­tee that has juris­dic­tion over fis­cal bills.

I tes­ti­fied in favor of the pro­pos­al, Sen­ate Bill 5096, last month, when it had its pub­lic hear­ing. Spon­sored by Sen­a­tor June Robin­son, it would (in its new­ly amend­ed form) raise approx­i­mate­ly $550 mil­lion a year, which would be invest­ed into child­care and reduc­ing inequity in our upside down tax code.

“We heard great feed­back from com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers across the state, in large part thanks to remote tes­ti­mo­ny mak­ing it eas­i­er for folks to weigh in,” said Robin­son (D‑38th Dis­trict: Everett and Sno­homish Coun­ty) after the vote.

“By rais­ing the thresh­old and expand­ing exemp­tions, this cap­i­tal gains pro­pos­al would increase the share of state tax­es paid by just 2% of the very wealth­i­est Wash­ing­to­ni­ans,” the Sen­a­tor explained. “It’s a rea­son­able way of ask­ing those wealthy few to join the rest of us in build­ing a stronger, health­i­er state for all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans – a state in which they have thrived.”

“This is a key first step,” Robin­son added, “toward a more fair and equi­table tax sys­tem – one that asks the wealth­i­est among us to be part of invest­ing in our state’s thriv­ing future; one that fos­ters, not sti­fles, a flour­ish­ing econ­o­my and the health and suc­cess of all Washingtonians.”

We agree.

We have been urg­ing the Sen­ate to adopt a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy for more than half a decade now. We’re thrilled to see this pop­u­lar pro­gres­sive tax reform idea get the vote of con­fi­dence it deserves from the Ways & Means Com­mit­tee. The next stop is the Sen­ate Rules Com­mit­tee, which has the pow­er to put the bill on the floor of the Sen­ate for debate and a vote on final passage.

The roll call on SB 5096 was as follows:

Vot­ing for a DO PASS Rec­om­men­da­tion (13): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Chris­tine Rolfes, David Frockt, June Robin­son, Reuven Car­lyle, Steve Con­way, Jean­nie Darneille, Man­ka Dhin­gra, Bob Hasegawa, Sam Hunt, Karen Keis­er, Marko Liias, Jamie Ped­er­sen, Lisa Wellman

Vot­ing for a DO NOT PASS Rec­om­men­da­tion (10): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Lyn­da Wil­son, Sharon Brown, Jim Hon­ey­ford, Mark Schoesler, Chris Gildon, Ron Muz­za­ll, Ann Rivers, Judy War­nick, Kei­th Wag­oner, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Mark Mullet

Vot­ing WITHOUT Rec­om­men­da­tion (1) (declin­ing to sup­port the bill, a form of no vote): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Kevin Van De Wege

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor John Braun

Washington State Senate roll call vote on SB 5096
The Ways & Means Com­mit­tee’s roll call vote on SB 5096, as seen on TVW

Wash­ing­to­ni­ans strong­ly sup­port adopt­ing a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy. We know because we’ve been ask­ing them for six years run­ning how they feel about the idea. Though most of our ques­tions have relied on the assump­tion that the rev­enue from a cap­i­tal gains tax would be ded­i­cat­ed to pub­lic schools, col­leges, and uni­ver­si­ties, child­care is a great pur­pose to ded­i­cate the fund­ing to, and there’s research show­ing vot­ers feel that’s a good use for the mon­ey, too.

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tana Senn (D‑41st Dis­trict: Mer­cer Island, Belle­vue, New­cas­tle) is work­ing on a sim­i­lar pro­pos­al in the House. We’re track­ing both bills in our State­house Bill Track­er, which you’ll find on NPI’s Advo­ca­cy page.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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