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Originally published October 16, 2012 at 10:25 PM | Page modified October 17, 2012 at 6:03 AM

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Fact-checking the McKenna-Inslee debate

A look at comments on a "property-tax swap" proposal and abortion legislation.

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The League of Education voters had this to say about Jay Inslee on the property tax... MORE
Overall, the plan would be roughly "revenue neutral" and wouldn't raise... MORE
So.. there it is. McKenna wants to increase my property taxes in Seattle to pay for... MORE

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Property-tax swap

During the debate, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee said his Republican opponent, Rob McKenna, supports a "property-tax swap" proposal that would increase taxes in nearly half the school districts in the state, but not increase funding overall.

McKenna responded that it was not his plan. He did not answer questions about whether the proposal would increase taxes in some districts, but noted it is revenue neutral.

The facts: McKenna has endorsed the tax-swap concept as one part of his education plan, which pledges to find billions more for public schools over time by holding down costs in other parts of state government.

Different versions of the tax swap have been proposed over the last few years by key legislative budget writers state Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield (who has since quit the Legislature) and Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina. McKenna has cited both men's plans in talking about the concept.

It is true that the plans proposed would result in taxes going up in some areas. In particular, property owners in property-rich school districts such as Seattle and Bellevue would pay more, although those districts would get no additional funding.

However, Inslee did not mention that property taxes would go down in many property-poor school districts, such as Yakima.

Overall, the plan would be roughly "revenue neutral" and wouldn't raise additional money for schools, at least initially.

Abortion legislation

Inslee said McKenna opposed state legislation that would require health-insurance plans to pay for abortions.

McKenna said the proposal failed to pass the state House and Senate because it would jeopardize federal health-care funding.

The facts: Earlier this year, lawmakers considered legislation that would require health-insurance plans covering maternity care to also pay for abortions, except those claiming a conscience-based exemption. The measure passed the House but died in the Senate.

Abortions are already widely covered by health plans in the state.

The measure was proposed amid uncertainty about whether the federal health-care overhaul might affect abortion coverage in the future.

McKenna's campaign issued a statement earlier this year saying he opposes the legislation because it could jeopardize federal funds. Supporters contend it was drafted in a way that avoids putting federal funding at risk.

— Seattle Times reporter Andrew Garber

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