Finding the money for McCleary: Senate holds hearing on House-proposed taxes.

Yesterday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing on SB 5929, a comprehensive tax bill sponsored by Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish. Yes, there’s a bit of a through-the-looking-glass quality to the early days of the special session. But, there’s also a method, as Joseph O’Sullivan reports in the Seattle Times.

Legislators are quietly discussing education policy. But Republicans have said they won’t negotiate on the budget until Democrats vote on their own tax plan. Wednesday’s hearing was an attempt to push Democrats closer to a vote…

“After this hearing, hopefully, they will go forward and pass their tax bill out of the House,” Rossi said.

TVW video of the hearing, which O’Sullivan says drew some 100 people to testify, is available here. As you might expect, there were few surprises in the testimony, but the turnout is impressive for a hearing on a bill some have said amounts to calling the bluff of tax proponents.

More from the Times:

Republican this year have added a new twist to the debate over revenue, by trying to force Democrats into voting on their proposed taxes.

They pushed such a vote last week, pulling versions of the Democratic capital-gains and business-and-occupation taxes to a vote on the Senate floor.

We wrote about the capital gains tax proposals Tuesday.

Seattle Times editorial writer Brier Dudley addresses the revenue question in a column exploring the meaning of “ample.” He thinks more money is needed.

Republicans and Democrats in Olympia worked hard to produce thoughtful education plans, but both fall short. Trying to spend as little as possible is usually the right thing for them to do. But in this case, it’s likely to prolong the legal fight that’s kept the state in limbo and shortchanged students for decades…

Negotiations continued this week but Republicans controlling the Senate and Democrats controlling the House can’t agree on which taxpayers should be tapped for the ample funding.

We’re not sure about this assertion:

The Senate plan requires drastic cuts in other services, a selective property-tax increase and still doesn’t provide enough education money. The House plan comes close to ample but leans heavily on local levies that are unreliable and inequitable.

But agree that he’s nailed a key feature of the stalemate. The House plan, however, which “comes close to ample” does more than lean heavily on local levies: As Dudley suggests, It requires substantial new taxes, on which members have yet to vote. 

We’ll see whether yesterday’s hearing accelerates that moment of decision.