News Releases

Murray Attempt to Extend Washington State Sales Tax Deduction Blocked By Senate Republicans

Sep 23 2010

Murray spoke on Senate floor, offered bill for immediate passage

Watch Senator Murray on Senate floor

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor to urge her colleagues to support a bill to extend the critical sales tax deduction for Washington state families as well as other tax cut extensions for middle class families, clean-energy companies, and small businesses. Murray pushed Senate Republicans to allow this bill to pass that will put money back into the pockets of families across Washington state and help businesses expand, create jobs, and boost the local economy.

Senator Murray asked for unanimous consent to pass this critical legislation immediately—but it was blocked by Senate Republican John Thune.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

“I’ve heard from so many of my constituents who told me they are holding off on making major purchases because they are simply not sure if that tax deduction will be there for them. Families are putting off purchases of cars and home appliances which hurts our state's businesses that are still struggling to recover…This is not just about removing a bias in the tax code that is fundamentally unfair to states like Washington.  It’s also about encouraging spending, boosting the economy, and providing some long-awaited certainty so taxpayers can plan their financial future.”

“Washington state families are hurting. So many of them are fighting every day to stay on their feet.  This bill is not going to solve their problems overnight—but it will put some money in their pockets and help local businesses expand and create jobs. And it pays for these tax cut extensions responsibly by closing corporate loopholes.”

“Once again I urge Senate Republicans to put politics aside and allow these fully paid-for tax cuts to be extended.  They may think blocking this bill is good politics— but it’s hurting families and small business owners, it’s hurting our clean-energy companies,  and it’s making it harder for our economy to recover.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:

“Madam President—middle class families in my home state of Washington are struggling.

“I have heard from so many who have lost their jobs, who have seen their life savings disappear.

“Who told me they are doing everything they can to pay their bills, keep their homes, and get their lives back on track—but they could use just a little bit of help.

“So it is for these families—and so many others across Washington state—that I come to the floor today.

“Madam President—over the last few months we have tried to pass legislation that would extend critical tax cuts for middle class families across the country that are struggling and could use some support.

“But every time we tried to pass this bill—Senate Republicans would band together to block it. 

“They said no to a common-sense proposal to cut taxes for innovative companies that expand and create jobs.

“They said no to a bill that would help clean-energy companies compete and expand.

“They said no to our plan to extend the critical sales tax deduction that would put more money into the pockets of families in states like Washington.

“They said no despite the fact that these tax cuts were fully paid for!

“So today I want to focus on just a few pieces of this legislation that middle class families and small businesses in my home state of Washington are especially counting on us to pass.

“First, Madam President—I want to spend a few minutes on one of the tax credits being blocked that is truly a matter of fundamental fairness for families in my home state of Washington.

“As my colleagues know, state and local governments across the country use a number of different tools to raise revenue.

“Some have income taxes;  some use sales taxes,  while others use a combination of the two. 

“Families who pay state and local income taxes have long been able to offset some of what they pay by receiving a deduction on their federal taxes. 

“But until 2004, taxpayers didn’t have the ability to deduct their sales taxes— which meant that families and small businesses in states where that was the main revenue source were paying more than their fair share.

“This was wrong—and I fought hard back in 2004 along with Senator Cantwell to change this provision and level the playing field for Washington state.

“I am proud to say this change has saved families and small business in my state hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

“Unfortunately, however—the sales tax deduction is due to expire this year—and unless we act, families across Washington state are going to suffer.

“They are going to have less money in their pockets, and they are going to have more uncertainly in the tax code.

“I’ve heard from so many of my constituents who told me they are holding off on making major purchases because they are simply not sure if that tax deduction will be there for them.

“Families are putting off purchases of cars and home appliances which hurts our state's businesses that are still struggling to recover.

“So Madam President—this is not just about removing a bias in the tax code that is fundamentally unfair to states like Washington.

“It’s also about: encouraging spending, boosting the economy, and providing some long-awaited certainty so taxpayers can plan their financial future.

“In other words—it’s about helping middle class families and supporting Main Street businesses.

“Madam President—I also want to talk about another tax credit being held up in this bill.

“I recently visited a clean-energy company in Seattle, Washington called Propel Fuels.

“This business has been fighting to market domestically produced, low carbon biodiesel— but they depend on a critical biofuels tax credit that expired and that this bill would extend.

“Propel Fuels represents the future of our economy.

“They are the kind of company that will help make sure our country remains at the forefront of innovation and growth.

“A company working to drive our economy forward and create new, 21st century careers.

“But they can’t do it alone.

“After years of subsidies and tax breaks for the oil industry, companies like Propel Fuels depend on the clean-energy tax credits in this bill to be able to compete on a level playing field.

“These credits support companies working on new, innovative, and renewable energy sources.

“And they will help them continue their work to: unshackle our economy,tap the creative energy of our workers, and create good, high-paying jobs in my home state of Washington and across the country.

“This is exactly what our economy needs right now—jobs right away, and a strong investment in our future.

“And that is why it is so important that the biodiesel tax credit be extended, along with the R&D credit, and other tax cut extensions in this bill that help innovative companies expand and create jobs.

“Madam President—this shouldn’t be a partisan issue—it’s common sense.

“We put together a bill that would extend tax credits to individuals and small businesses— tax credits that have been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike.

“A bill that would provide incentives for clean-energy companies to expand and create jobs.

“That would allow Washington state families to deduct local sales tax from their federal returns.

“That would support companies that are innovating and creating and help our economy get back on track.

“And that is fully paid for!

“Madam President, Washington state families are hurting. So many of them are fighting every day to stay on their feet.

“This bill is not going to solve their problems overnight—but it will put some money in their pockets and help local businesses expand and create jobs.

“And it pays for these tax cut extensions responsibly by closing corporate loopholes.

“So the Senate Republicans who have opposed this in the past now have a choice: do they stand with  middle class families and innovative businesses like Propel Fuels to cut their taxes?

“Or do they stand with the large corporations to protect their unfair tax loopholes?

“Madam President, once again I urge Senate Republicans to put politics aside and allow these fully paid-for tax cuts to be extended.

“They may think blocking this bill is good politics— but it’s hurting families and small business owners, it’s hurting our clean-energy companies,  and it’s making it harder for our economy to recover.

“Madam President—I am never going to stop standing up for middle class families and Main Street businesses in my home state of Washington.

“Thank you.

“I yield the floor.”