OLYMPIA — In an effort to increase funding for education in Washington, 17 state representatives have proposed a bill that would impose a 2 percent tax on individuals earning $1 million a year.
The tax would affect about 4,000 taxpayers and would raise $167 million in 2014, according to fiscal notes available on the Legislature’s website. Revenue would increase to $221 million by 2019.
HB 1545 went through its first reading Jan. 30 and was referred to the House Committee on Finance.
“I don’t think it’s unfair to ask those who are rich to put in a little extra,” said 23rd District state Rep. Sherry Appleton, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill.
The tax would be imposed on “the receipt of adjusted gross income above one million dollars by residents or qualifying nonresidents deriving income from sources within the state,” the bill states. “The rate of the tax is as follows: Adjusted gross income in excess of one million dollars is taxed at two percent.”
You can read the bill in its entirety and follow its progress at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1545&year=2013.
The bill would also create a “Paramount Duty Trust Fund” devoted to education; the top priority, according to fiscal notes attached to the bill, would be to reduce classroom sizes in grades K-4.
Elementary class sizes in the North Kitsap School District range from 16 to 32 students. The average kindergarten class is 22.3 students, according to Herald story in December. The average first-grade class is 22.9 and the average second-grade class is 25.4.
Appleton hopes HB 1545 is a step toward fully funding basic education.
The expectation to fund basic education came from the Supreme Court case of McCleary v. State. On Jan. 5, 2012, the Supreme Court upheld a trial court’s ruling that the state has not made ample provision for educating all children in Washington.
The court ruled “the State must amply provide for the education of all Washington children as the State’s first and highest priority before any other state programs or operations.”
To meet that obligation, the state must increase its education funding by billions of dollars by 2018, including increasing state funding per student to school districts to at least $9,710.
The increase in taxes on millionaires will not take care of the state’s need to more adequately fund education, Appleton said. But it “will be a step to show we’re trying.”
It is the second time a bill of this nature has been introduced. A similar bill was introduced last year — House Bill 2766 — but did not make it past the second special session during budget adoption.
It would cost the state Department of Revenue $6.3 million to implement the bill in 2014, according to the bill’s fiscal notes. Those costs include labor and establishing new software programs, for example. Ongoing costs for the 2015-17 biennium would be $2.5 million.