OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats today introduced several measures aimed at reinvigorating the state’s small business economy while also providing free incentives for families to get outside and enjoy Washington.

The proposal includes a tax cut for more than 125,000 small businesses across the state, waives entrance fees for county fairs and state fairs, and makes the Discover Pass available for free for a year starting July 1. The Senate has already approved measures to make transit and ferry fares free for youth and to reduce tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

“As we start to look beyond the pandemic, it’s time to get out and remember what makes our state so special,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), the Senate’s top budget writer. “I’m hoping these incentives will make it easier for families to have some fun and enjoy our public lands.”

The measures introduced this week include:

  • Increased tax credit for small businesses: SB 5980 would provide more than 125,000 small businesses tax relief, roughly double the credit that small businesses are allowed to deduct for state business and occupation taxes. Service business with $125,000 in gross receipts would pay no B&O and small businesses with up to $250 in gross receipts would pay reduced taxes; 70% of all businesses would either pay no B&O tax or a reduced rate.
  • Free fairs: People would gain free entry to county fairs and the Washington State Fair in 2022 through a grant program for fair organizations in the proposed 2022 supplemental budget.
  • Free State parks: Fees for the Discover Passes purchased between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023 would be waived through an appropriation in the proposed 2022 supplemental budget. Funding for the state’s public land agencies is increased to backfill annual pass revenues and increase maintenance at trails and campgrounds.

Two other measures in the Move Ahead Washington Transportation package are also moving through the Legislature:

  • Youth ride free: Youth passengers 18 and under ride public transit and ferries free of charge.
  • Toll relief on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge: Reducing toll rates for passenger vehicles up to 75 cents, from $5.25 to $4.50.

“Working families and small businesses have been hardest hit throughout this pandemic,” said Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), who led efforts for toll relief on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and is a cosponsor of SB 5980. “Washington is emerging from the impact of COVID-19 on strong footing, and this budget is about ensuring no one is left behind during that recovery.

Funding for these measures is expected to move through the Senate Ways and Means Committee this afternoon before receiving a vote of the full Senate on Friday.