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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Governor Makes Another Push To Close Tax Exemptions

Christina Salerno
File photo of Washington Governor Jay Inslee

Washington Governor Jay Inslee continued his push on Tuesday for lawmakers to close tax exemptions to fund education.

But there’s no indication the mostly Republican majority in the Washington Senate can be persuaded.

Inslee first proposed closing several tax exemptions last March. His goal then was to raise about $1 billion for schools. In the end, the legislature eliminated one exemption: for local telephone service.

Now Inslee is dusting off his old list.

“Under my plan we would close seven current tax breaks which will generate more than $200 million per year in new funding,” said the governor.

They include: eliminating the sales tax exemption for shoppers from Oregon and other no-sales-tax states. Inslee would also repeal the sales tax exemption for bottled water.

Republican Andy Hill, chair of the Senate budget committee, says tax breaks are hard to close – especially in a 60-day, election year session.

“It has to be done very carefully, very thoughtfully," he says. "And that’s something that’s very hard to do in a short session.”

The Washington Supreme Court has imposed an April 30 deadline for the legislature and governor to come up with a plan to fully fund public school by 2018.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."