A task force—one of the many formed by Jay Inslee—has proposed the revival of “two unpopular taxes to help finance the state’s park system and promote its outdoor recreation industry.” The two taxes include a sales tax on bottled water and an excise tax (.5%) on motor homes and travel trailers. According to the panel, these taxes would generate enough revenue ($100 million during the next 2-year budget) to keep parks open.
Washington voters repealed a bottled water tax enacted by the state Legislature in 2010. Additionally, in 2000, Washington voters passed Initiative 695 which put an end to an excise tax on motor homes and travel trailers.
Inslee called the tax recommendations “well thought out and practical.” He further stated that he looks “forward to working with the Legislature to see if we can begin to put the recommendations in place.”
Other recommendations of the group include the creation of a new position in the Department of Commerce that focuses “on the needs of the outdoor recreation industry, just as the state does for aerospace and other industries” and the creation of a “coordinating council” that would “improve access to local, state and federal lands.” The cost of creating the new government positions is estimated at $750,000 per year.
The prospect of implementing new taxes and adding new costs to the state budget raises questions of necessity. Responding to the task force’s recommendations, Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, stated concern over unnecessary duplication of existing state boards and employees’ roles. Never mind the fact that the new taxes would go against the will of voters—Washington voters have already rejected both a bottled water tax and a motor homes and travel trailers tax.