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Speaker Chopp unfurls his tax roadmap

Democrats are in a ticklish spot about the budget deficit. So they will shy away from a general tax increase and instead focus on "tax fairness," sticking it to out-of-state companies and airplane owners.
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Speaker Frank Chopp leads House Democrats.

Democrats are in a ticklish spot about the budget deficit. So they will shy away from a general tax increase and instead focus on "tax fairness," sticking it to out-of-state companies and airplane owners.

A blunt lawmaker once told me that Democrats in Olympia walk around with two numbers stamped on their foreheads: 1994 and 133.

1994 is the year Democrats over-reached, raised taxes, and lost their majority status; 133 is number of votes by which Gov. Chris Gregoire eventually won the 2004 gubernatorial election. Those numbers serve as haunting reminders to Democrats — at least those who experienced the 1994 bloodbath and the 2004 embarrassment — of days they hope not to relive.

It is against this historical backdrop that the majority party enters the 2010 legislative session. There'ꀙs reason for Democrats in Olympia to be concerned. Nationally, political analysts are watching for signs that another 1994-style voter backlash against Democrats is fomenting.

All this helps explain why last week Speaker of the House Frank Chopp sent strong signals that a general sales tax increase is all but dead on arrival this year. Lawmakers, who just convened for a 60-day election year session, must close another $2.6 billion hole in the budget. On TVW'ꀙs  

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Speaker Chopp unfurls his tax roadmap