News Releases

Senator Murray Applauds Tax Breaks for Washington State Families and Clean Energy Production

Sep 24 2008

Critical legislation includes extension of sales tax deductibility, tax credits for renewable energy production, federal payments to support rural schools and Infrastructure, and mental health care parity

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) today applauded legislation that includes immediate help to Washington state families, businesses, and communities in the form of tax breaks and payments. The tax package passed the Senate by a vote of 93-2. The bill will now be considered by the House of Representatives.

“The important tax breaks included in this bill couldn’t come a moment too soon for families and communities across Washington state,” said Senator Murray. “This bill will help ease the burden our faltering economy has placed on working families and help expand investments in a smarter energy future.”

Critical components of the bill that Senator Murray has championed in the Senate include:

Sales Tax Deductibility

The legislation passed today includes a two-year extension of the sales tax deduction, which enables Washington state taxpayers to take an itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes in lieu of a deduction for state income taxes.  A law allowing the sales tax deduction expired in December 2007.

“This is great news for Washington state families who can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they will be treated fairly at tax time,” said Senator Murray. “With gas and food prices on the rise and markets in decline, this bill will help put money back into the pockets of our state’s taxpayers.

Energy Tax Credits

The bill contains clean energy tax incentives totaling approximately $17 billion. The bill includes the long term extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydropower and other types of renewable energy.  It also extends the Investment Tax Credit for solar energy, fuel cells and microturbines, and authorizes $2 billion for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to finance facilities that generate electricity from renewable energy sources.  The bill also includes tax credits that will help Americans afford new energy technologies, such as plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles.

“The renewable energy industry has boosted local economies, expanded our energy supply, and created new green collar jobs in our state,” said Senator Murray. “These tax credits will help Washington state utility companies meet requirements for renewable energy and make that energy more affordable for ratepayers. Extending these clean energy tax credits is an important step forward in meeting our state’s ambitious alternative energy goals.”

Secure Rural Schools

The bill passed today also reauthorizes the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act through 2011.  This provision will ensure that our rural counties have the funding they need for education, roads and essential public safety services, and will give counties a predictable stream of funding that allows them to plan for the future.

“By establishing an extension of this critical program, we are giving Washington state counties the certainty they need to improve education, upgrade roads, and provide critical public services,” said Senator Murray. “As a former educator, I am committed to ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn, regardless of where they live. This tax package provides the revenue needed to ensure those opportunities for our children.” 

Mental Health Parity

The legislation passed today includes the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007, which will help ensure that Americans who have health insurance for physical illnesses are provided with equivalent coverage for mental illness. In the Senate, Senator Murray worked to guarantee that the bill did not preempt the already strong Washington state mental health parity laws.

"This bill will make mental health care coverage more equitable, accessible, and affordable," said Senator Murray. “It will give millions of Americans who have been discouraged by high deductibles and co-payments the chance to get the mental health care they deserve. I want to thank Senators Kennedy and Domenici for their commitment to this issue and for allowing me to work with them to ensure that Washington state’s already robust and fair mental health care laws are not negatively affected by this legislation.  I also want to thank Senator Paul Wellstone for championing this effort and inspiring us all to pass this important legislation.”