Special Session opens in Olympia: Pot tax revenue, school funding still sticking points

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OLYMPIA -- On the first day of the special legislative session, activists from Fuse, a progressive group, quickly erected a tent outside the Capitol Wednesday. They are calling it a half-baked sale.

"We have a wide range of munchies depending on your preference," said Collin Jergens. "You name it. Oreos, Doritos, brownies, Mountain Dew."


The snack sale is aimed at Senate Republicans who want to use tax revenue from legal marijuana to help fund education.

"They want to rely on risky, untested revenue to fund our schools," said Jergens.

Sen. Andy Hill, who authored the Republican budget, admits to targeting pot to pay for schools.

The state Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund education; the price tag is more than $1 billion.

"This is a brand new revenue stream," said Hill. "We weren’t sure how much. There’s actually more then we thought coming in and we want to direct that extra into education."

Hill says because of the marijuana money, and $3 billion in new state revenue, his budget works without raising new taxes.

Democrats don't buy it. They want revenue from pot sales to go to public health and prevention. They also want to create a new capital gains tax to cover school funding.

"We are under court order for the first time in the history of this state to fully fund public education," said Rep. Reuven Carlyle, a Democrat from Seattle. "We have not done that. We’ve got to come together to figure out how to get that done."

The legislative floor was virtually empty for most of the day as lawmakers huddled in budget meetings aimed at seeking a compromise, something Gov. Jay Inslee is encouraging so the special session ends sooner rather then later.

"The people expect them now to trade legitimate offers and they are going to have to advance towards one another and to do that they will have to compromise."



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  • Morris Ryan

    According to the latest revenue forecast released by state economists, lawmakers can count on a whopping $3.2 billion (a 9.2% increase!) more in tax revenue than they had last time they wrote the state budget. That’s more than enough money to fulfill all our state’s funding obligations and more – and the Senate proved that point by passing a budget that balanced without new taxes.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Wasn’t the tax revenue angle part of what helped sell legalization? I remember Liberals saying how much benefit all that tax money would create. Now when it’s time to start divvying up the money, it’s suddenly off limits?