Washington State's Capitol Campus in Olympia, from the air
An aerial view of Washington State's Capitol Campus in Olympia, with the distinctive Legislative Building in the center (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

A long­time Repub­li­can polit­i­cal oper­a­tive and advi­sor to unsuc­cess­ful guber­na­to­r­i­al, sen­a­to­r­i­al, and con­gres­sion­al can­di­date Dino Rossi appears to be mov­ing for­ward with an effort to repeal Wash­ing­ton State’s recent­ly-enact­ed state cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy through a statewide initiative.

J. Van­der Stoep, an attor­ney based in Chehalis who has been active in Repub­li­can pol­i­tics for many years, has filed the ini­tial text of a mea­sure that would com­plete­ly repeal Engrossed Sub­sti­tute Sen­ate Bill 5096, the leg­is­la­tion that cre­at­ed Wash­ing­ton’s new state cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy and ded­i­cat­ed the rev­enue it gen­er­ates to child­care, ear­ly learn­ing, and K‑12 pub­lic schools.

ESSB 5096 is already being chal­lenged in court by a group of plain­tiffs rep­re­sent­ed by for­mer Repub­li­can State Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na, but Van­der Stoep and oth­er Repub­li­can oper­a­tives (who sim­ply can’t stand the idea of requir­ing the wealthy to pay their fair share of dues to our great state) are con­cerned that law­suit could end in fail­ure with a deci­sion uphold­ing ESSB 5096 in the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court, which will have the final word on the case.

Van­der Stoep formed a state-lev­el polit­i­cal com­mit­tee last Decem­ber to begin work on a bal­lot mea­sure with the help of oth­er Repub­li­can oper­a­tives, includ­ing Mark Funk, a vet­er­an of many statewide bal­lot battles.

The com­mit­tee has thus far received only $47,200 in con­tri­bu­tions from a few very wealthy peo­ple (Steve Gor­don, Bri­an Hey­wood, Howard Behar, John Blox­om). It has spent $39,100.31 and incurred $108,262 in debt, most­ly to its con­sul­tants (Funk, Peri Hall & Asso­ciates) and law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine.

Get­ting on the bal­lot will require far more mon­ey, but plen­ty of Repub­li­can donors have mil­lion and bil­lion dol­lar for­tunes and are eager to keep Wash­ing­ton State a tax haven for the rich. They can eas­i­ly afford what­ev­er it will end up cost­ing to hire peti­tion­ers to col­lect 425,000 or more sig­na­tures to force a pub­lic vote on their scheme to roll back the progress that Wash­ing­ton’s elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives have made towards bal­anc­ing our upside down tax code.

Van­der Stoep’s ini­tia­tive is short. Com­ing in at two pages, it con­sists of a few edi­to­r­i­al com­ments fol­low­ing by lists of statutes to be removed from the Revised Code of Wash­ing­ton. To put it suc­cinct­ly, it’s a straight-up repeal attempt. There are no oth­er pro­vi­sions in Van­der Stoep’s mea­sure, in con­trast to the var­i­ous schemes Tim Eyman and Jim Walsh have tried to get fund­ing for.

Invest In Wash­ing­ton Now, which like NPI is a 501(c)(4) com­mit­ted to secur­ing pro­gres­sive tax reforms for Wash­ing­ton State, not­ed in a state­ment released this morn­ing that polling has repeat­ed­ly shown that vot­ers want the super-rich to pay their fair share in dues to our state and coun­try. That includes our own research.

NPI has been ask­ing Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers whether they sup­port levy­ing a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy for more than half a decade. We have found sup­port every sin­gle time that we have asked… and sup­port stays intact even after vot­ers hear the oppo­si­tion’s most stri­dent argu­ments.

Last autumn, we test­ed vot­er inter­est in one of Eyman and Wal­sh’s schemes to get rid of the cap­i­tal gains tax and also ban income tax­es, and found a yawn­ing lack of enthu­si­asm. Van­der Stoep, Funk, and the oth­er oper­a­tives work­ing on this cam­paign may believe that call­ing the state’s new cap­i­tal gains tax an income tax will set them up for a suc­cess­ful out­come, but our polling sug­gests that’s sim­ply not the case. By forc­ing a pub­lic vote on ESSB 5096, they are tak­ing the risk of hand­ing pro­gres­sives a big vic­to­ry to sus­tain pro­gres­sive tax reform in the court of pub­lic opin­ion. Does­n’t seem like a wise use of funds.

NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense project, which recent­ly cel­e­brat­ed its twen­ty-year anniver­sary, will be sup­port­ing the coali­tion work­ing to ensure Wash­ing­ton’s progress towards secur­ing a more equi­table tax code is not rolled back.

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.

Adjacent posts

One reply on “J. Vander Stoep files new initiative to repeal Washington’s capital gains tax on the wealthy”

Comments are closed.