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Washington Lawmakers Want Tax Action Quickly

Washington's Democratic lawmakers are beginning to fidget about cherished tax breaks and federal subsidies for counties and schools. They're pushing to do something before Republicans gain firm control of both houses of Congress.

A couple of federal payment programs subject to political whims are the Payments in Lieu of Taxes and the Secure Rural Schools plans. Washington Senator Patty Murray is pushing both the outgoing and incoming Senate majority leaders to move quickly for funding, at least through next year, before the current Congress evaporates.

Murray said the programs this year alone accounted for about $41 million income to counties - such as Pend Oreille - with vast tracts of federal forest land which is not taxable.

In neighboring Idaho, Bonner County, where federal forests account for more than 40 percent of the land area, has also spurred lawmakers to act quickly.

Washington's two Democratic senators are also worried about losing federal income tax credits for state and local sales taxes. That provision is part of a so-called tax extenders package which is being threatened by a veto from the White House.

The president sees the proposed deal as too friendly for business interests but neglectful of working families.

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