Friday Roundup: Income taxes & pass-through businesses, West Coast ports, regulations and manufacturing, Governor’s budget

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Tax Foundation: Pass-Through Businesses: Data and Policy

Over 90 percent of businesses in the United States are pass-through businesses, whose income is reported on the business owners’ tax returns and is taxed under the individual income tax. These businesses earn the majority of all business income in the U.S. and employ over half of the private-sector workforce in 49 out of 50 states.

Although they are not subject to the corporate income tax, many pass-through businesses still face a considerable tax burden on their investments and profits. Pass-through businesses are subject to both the federal individual income tax, with a top rate of 43.4 percent, and state and local income taxes, with rates ranging up to 13.3 percent.

Fox News: Trump’s Coal Challenge: West Coast states could block industry revival

West Coast states, dominated by Democrats in elected positions as well as regulatory agencies, have rejected every port project aimed at getting millions of tons of U.S. coal to markets in Asia.

The latest blockage took place Jan. 3 when outgoing Washington State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark denied a sublease to Millennium Bulk Terminal in Longview, Wash….

“These ports are for the Western United States, and the landlocked states who want to be able to export products overseas need access to those ports,” said Rob McKenna, a former Republican attorney general in Washington state. “I think it raises real constitutional issues when states systematically try to deny them access to those ports.”

Washington Research Council: Gov. Inslee’s 2017–19 Operating Budget Proposal Would Significantly Increase Spending and Taxes

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council expects near general fund–state plus opportunity pathways (NGFS+) revenues to increase by $2.579 billion in the 2017–19 biennium, to $41.284 billion, as a result of economic growth. That is a substantial increase, but the Legislature is also under pressure to increase K–12 spending to comply with the McCleary decision.

In this environment, Gov. Inslee has proposed an operating budget for 2017–19 that would increase NGFS+ spending by $8.242 billion over 2015–17. He has also proposed a tax package that would increase NGFS+ revenues by $4.369 billion…

Indeed, it seems unlikely that the substantial tax increases in Gov. Inslee’s proposal will advance in the Legislature. Many of them have been proposed be- fore and rejected by either the Legislature or the voters.

The study, called “Holding US Back: Regulation of the U.S. Manufacturing Sector,” is based on extensive interviews, a survey of the NAM membership and an analysis of hundreds of specific federal regulations. Key findings include:

  • Manufacturers face 297,696 restrictions on their operations from federal regulations.
  • Eighty-seven percent of manufacturers surveyed say that if compliance costs were reduced permanently and significantly, they would invest the savings on hiring, increased salaries and wages, more R&D or capital replacement.
  • Ninety-four percent of manufacturers surveyed say the regulatory burden has gotten higher in the last 5 years, with 72% saying “significantly higher.”

The Lens: Transportation Funding Questions Persist

Connecting Washington “is going to move us down the road” in terms of expanding state road capacity, said Senate Transportation Chair Curtis King (R-14). However, it “still left a lot to be done with our existing infrastructure.”

…Addressing the existing state’s transportation needs is something “I don’t think we can wait another 14 to 15 years to look at,” said King.

The sentiment is shared by Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35). He told Lens, “if you don’t take care of your roads, as time goes on, they are very expensive.”