Budget debate turns to taxes: Are carbon, pot and income in the mix?

House and Senate budget negotiators will move swiftly to close the gap between budget plans separated by more than a billion dollars and a philosophical chasm. And that means that everything is again in play, as a series of articles today makes clear.

Carbon. The carbon tax proposed by Gov. Inslee, which recently received national attention, did not make it into the House budget (it was always unlikely to appear in the Senate’s plan). Yet, today, Joe Copeland writes in Crosscut that it may be back

House Environment Committee chair Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Des Moines, said Thursday that he, administration officials, House representatives and even representation from the GOP Senate caucus have been meeting almost daily to discuss the possibility of reviving the Inslee’s dormant proposal.

Publicola also has the story. And the Wall Street Journal reports on a national carbon tax proposal being pitched to conservatives. This is a debate worth watching.

Pot. While it’s not a lot of money in the scope the $38 billion state budget, marijuana taxes play a role in both chambers’ budgets. The Seattle Times reports today on the different budget approaches to pot money

The Republican-led Senate estimates the marijuana industry will generate about $296 million in the next two years. Save for $8 million a year for the Liquor Control Board and $6 million a year split among cities and counties, that money will go toward education funding…

The Democrat-led House budget expects about $270 million in marijuana revenue. About $7.4 million a year would go to the Liquor Control Board, $720,000 to fund studies and $6 million a year for cities and counties. The rest is distributed, by percentage, to a number of prevention, treatment and health-care programs.

There are other differences, also worth watching.

Income tax. While not on anyone’s agenda in Olympia this year (at least not publicly), the personal income tax remains the white whale of tax reform for many Washingtonians. Seattle economist Dick Conway argues for a 10.6 percent flat rate personal income tax on the op-ed pages of the Seattle Times today. 

That’s not to mention the capital gains tax, B&O tax rate increases, bottled water taxes, and more that are currently in the House budget plan. We’re approaching the anything-can-happen last days of the regular session, which can be the very definition of taxing times.