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The Latest: Inslee proposes $1.1B to help starving orcas

December 13, 2018

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Latest on Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget announcement (all times local):

11:05 a.m.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing $1.1 billion in spending — and a partial whale-watching ban — to help support the recovery of Puget Sound’s critically endangered orcas.

Inslee detailed the plans as part of his announcement Thursday of his priorities for the 2019-2021 state budget cycle. He says the money will go toward protecting and restoring habitat for salmon, the orcas’ favored prey; boosting production from salmon hatcheries; storm-water cleanup; and easing noise pollution from vessel traffic.

Inslee also said he intends to ban whale-watching of the local endangered orcas — known as the southern residents — for three years. He stressed that whale-watching will be allowed for other whales in Washington waters, including other orcas that pass through.

Inslee’s proposal followed recommendations from an orca recovery task force he convened last spring.

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10:34 a.m.

Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a new capital gains tax and an increase in business taxes on services as part of his next two-year budget proposal that looks to increase spending on the state’s mental health system and the environment, including funding on efforts to help the state’s struggling orca population.

After rolling out his policy goals on tackling climate change and the mental health system earlier in the week, Inslee on Thursday unveiled more specifics for the 2019-2021 budget cycle.

Most of the revenue from the $3.7 billion tax package proposed by Inslee comes from an increase in the business and occupation tax on services provided by accountants, attorneys, real estate agents and others. About $975 million would be raised in fiscal year 2021 from a 9 percent capital gains tax on earnings from the sale of stocks, bonds and other assets above $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for those who file jointly.

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