Budget negotiations got a whole lot easier yesterday after the Washington Department of Revenue (DOR) announced that the state's first ever tax amnesty program hauled in a whopping $263.4 million, eleven times more than anticipated, as thousands of businesses took advantage of an April 30 deadline to pay overdue taxes without penalties or interest. Local governments pulled in another $57 million.

But while the tax amnesty program can certainly be deemed a runaway success, it doesn't exactly present Washington businesses in a favorable light. Think about it. That's $321 million in overdue taxes—taxes we know these businesses could afford to pay, because they just did—that would've gone uncollected without the extra incentive. It also raises a question about whether it might behoove the state to invest a little more in revenue enforcement and collection.

DOR had previously estimated that 50,000 Washington businesses, about 10 percent of those registered, were in arrears. That's kinda astounding, especially during this time of perpetual state and local budget crisis. Pro-business surrogates in both parties constantly argue that raising taxes or eliminating exemptions would hurt Washington's businesses. But it's hard to muster sympathy for the financial needs of a business community that remains so callous towards the financial needs of the state.