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Tax hikes take effect in Washington January 1st

In the new year, Washington state is raising taxes. But you'll need sharp eyes to notice where.  Lawmakers have hiked and expanded a telephone tax to support 911 service.

Pump prices are on the rise anyway. But on New Year’s Day you can chalk up the increase in Oregon at least to a six-cents per gallon hike in the state gas tax. The Oregon Legislature passed that gas tax in 2009 to pay for road projects and create jobs.

Meanwhile in Washington, the 911 telephone tax is going up 25 cents per month per phone number in most counties. Thurston County emergency dispatch director Jim Quackenbush says 911 call centers like his need upgrades to keep pace with the things our phones can do.

“The example might be the text of an individual who is locked in a closet because someone has broken into their house. They can’t talk, but they can text. Another would be the photo situation, ‘I’ve just witnessed a crime and here’s the photo,’” says Quackenbush.

He predicts the capability to send a text or cell phone video to 911 will become broadly available around the year 2012 or 2013. 

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.