Gov. Jay Inslee is not a fan of state Treasurer Jim McIntire's ambitious tax plan, which adds a personal income tax, eliminates the state property tax and slashes business and sales taxes.

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OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee is not a fan of state Treasurer Jim McIntire’s ambitious tax overhaul.

McIntire on Monday released a plan to restructure state taxes by adding a personal income tax, eliminating the state property tax and slashing business and sales taxes.

But Inslee isn’t on board, according to Jaime Smith, the governor’s spokeswoman.

“He is not proposing a state income tax,” Smith said, adding that in his budget, the governor called for taxes on carbon polluters and a capital gains tax on some assets to help pay for court-mandated K-12 education costs and other state needs.

The remarks come as groups on both sides of the debate attempt to sway public opinion on the proposed budgets – with some loose interpretations of what those budgets actually contain.

The Washington State Republican Party (WSRP) this week made robocalls, according to the governor’s office, claiming that Inslee has proposed a “capital gains income tax.”

An appeal posted on WSRP’s website, dated Monday, asked for voters to call Inslee and complain.

Gov. Jay Inslee “is not proposing a state income tax,” according to Jaime Smith, the governor’s spokeswoman. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
Gov. Jay Inslee “is not proposing a state income tax,” according to Jaime Smith, the governor’s spokeswoman. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

“So in Olympia right now, Jay Inslee is holding the state hostage,” reads the webpage. “He wants you to pay more taxes – and he has a sneaky plan to impose a state income tax.”

The political action committee Recover Washington, a coalition of bankers and business groups, makes a similar argument in an advertisement posted on YouTube.

The spot, uploaded on April 14, shows two whiteboards comparing the proposed Democratic and Republican budgets; the whiteboard showing the Democratic House budget proposal describes a “capital gains income” tax. The House budget’s capital gains proposal differs from Inslee’s, but it too, targets investment income on the super-wealthy, not personal income wages.

Recover Washington in late February reported spending $20,674 on radio ads calling for a budget without any tax increases.

The distinctions matter. A January Elway poll found 57 percent of Washingtonians surveyed saying they would support a capital gains tax on high earners. Contrast that to the 2010 ballot measure that proposed a state personal income tax: it failed by a 30-point margin.

Still, the January poll and another Elway poll released in April show voters divided other the idea of increasing taxes. Forty-eight percent of those polled in April said they’d prefer to use existing revenues to increase education spending, even if that means cuts to other state programs. Forty-three percent responded that they were open to the idea of raising taxes to fund education spending.

And the January poll highlighted voters’ tendency to want spending without having to pay for it. Sixty five percent of respondents said they preferred a budget that does “as much as possible” to reduce class sizes and fund education “without raising taxes and without deep cuts to other programs.”

But those aren’t the only messages playing loose with budget facts. The Washington Education Association (WEA), the state’s largest teacher’s union, has a radio spot accusing Republicans of voting to increase class sizes and “shortchange” teacher pay.

But the proposed Republican Senate budget would decrease K-3 class sizes, per the court’s McCleary decision. (It’s worth noting that all three budget proposals — Democratic, Republican, and Inslee’s — all pare down Initiative 1351, the K-12 class size reduction measure, to only K-3). The WEA ad also accuses Republicans of shortchanging teachers on pay.

To be sure, Republicans and Democrats have different opinions over how – and how much – to fund teacher pay. While the Democratic budget proposes a higher number, the Republicans still call for funding the Initiative 732 teacher cost-of-living raises.

And the WEA this year has criticized both budgets for not giving teachers enough money – though a spokesman recently wouldn’t say what higher number the union would prefer.