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 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
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.