OLYMPIA, WA - In an effort to help close the stateï¿½ï¿½s $2.8 billion budget deficit, Washingtonï¿½ï¿½s state House voted Saturday to increase a range of taxes, including those for beer, water, soda and candy, The Seattle Times reports.
The billed passed by a 52-44 vote with no Republicans supporting the bill. It now goes to Washingtonï¿½ï¿½s Senate, where Democrats said they were confident they would garner the votes to approve the taxes.
State Sen. Ed Murray defended the tax increases, saying that the state cannot continue to cut services.
"We cut health care, we cut K-12, we cut higher education. It's going to be harder for your students to get into college. Your students are going to have crowded classrooms they didn't have before because of our cuts," Murray said. "But at some point, you cut so much you start to close down basic government services."
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has threatened to make additional budget cuts unless the Legislatures approve tax increases. But Republicans argued against the increases.
"I would challenge anyone to show me how you can take $800 million ... out of the economy and expect the economy to improve," said state Rep. Ed Orcutt.
The bill is projected to raise $668 million through June 2011. Taxes on beer, soda, candy and bottled water would generate more than $150 million. A tax on mass-market beer would add roughly 28 cents per six-pack while exempting microbreweries from the increase and is projected to raise nearly $60 million. The soda tax would add 2 cents on each 12-ounce can or bottle and would generate $33.5 million.