The state's hospitals like the House version of a tax extension better than the Senate version.
Other than that, a Senate bill to extend the state's hospital safety net tax by six years went through a Senate Ways & Means Committee hearing Tuesday with no opposition.
The bill —introduced by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville — is the only tax measure, other than new exemptions, in the Republican-oriented Senate's proposed $33.21 billion operating budget for 2013-2015. The Democratic-controlled House's proposed $34.5 billion operating budget has a similar hospital safety next tax extension — introduced by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma — awaiting a floor vote in the House.
There are a couple differences between the two bills.
The Senate bill would extend the tax by six years, with the rate shrinking annually. It would raise $238 million for the 2013-2015 budget. The House versions would extend the tax four years, keeping the rate steady annually. It would raise $273 million for 2013-2015, because of a different way the temporarily increased tax would be rolled back to its 2009 level.
Len McComb, representing the Washington State Hospital Association, said the organization prefers the House version. In earlier testimony about the Senate bill, the association objected to any extension beyond four years. And the association praised the way the House bill assured money would go to health purposes and fit with complicated federal rules.
This tax is assessed on the days that a hospital holds non-Medicare inpatients.
The House proposed budget includes extending a beer tax, a service-related business-and-operations and this tax —as well has closing 15 tax exemptions. The Senate version proposes only extending this tax, while closing no exemptions.
For exclusive coverage of the state Legislature, check out Crosscut's Olympia 2013 page.