According to Inslee: No new taxes needed to fund education,
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee said Friday the state doesn’t need new taxes to fulfill its education funding obligations, even though Gov. Chris Gregoire says new revenue has to be considered.
Inslee said that he is focused on raising the state’s revenue by encouraging economic growth.
“That is the driving engine of revenue growth for state government,” Inslee said. “The foundational aspect of education funding for the state is getting 288,000 people back to work.”
But relying on economic growth is a non-starter. It requires no call for sacrifices and so is politically palatable to those who still have something to lose. Some development may be possible but growth? Not without tradeoffs that will cost more. Rekindled growth was the idea behind gutting SEPA and GMA. We’ll unleash those fabulous developers and they’ll save us by building more housing developments and office complexes. Or those wonderful agribusiness executives will export more crops (and the water and soil to grow them) at huge profit to themselves, while the taxpayers make the farmers whole. Or Boeing will build refueling tankers for bomber death planes to kill people 5,000 miles away and airliners to fly all the important folks around.
Hard to prosper politically if you call on the big money boys to make sacrifices. They think they’ll survive what’s coming just fine, and they don’t give a rat’s ass about the rest of us. The top one-hundreth of 1% of the population (less than 30,000 individuals nationwide, proportionately, about 600 in Washington) funds about a quarter of all political donations. The rest of the top 1% gives a huge chunk of the rest. Those $10 and $100 contributions don’t add up to much. Especially if given to candidates using them to buy TV ads.
It’s hard to find anything good to say about Washington’s tax system and Gregoire doesn’t redeem herself by calling for new taxes on her way out the door. What passes for our side has bought into so much crap for so long they’ve reinforced the GOP theme that taxes are too high and they must be slashed. Our budget and our revenue are not really on the table at all every biennium. We have so much dedicated funding that 80% of the budget isn”t on the table, and of course, neither are tax increases so long as they require a 2/3 supermajority.
Washington’s state and local taxes are low and dropping whether measured per capita or as a share of income. Taxes are not too high in Washington, we’ve slipped to 29th in terms of income and 31st in per capita terms.
They are borne disproportionately by the poorest Washingtonians. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy updated their state-by-state analysis of state and local taxes in 2009. “Who Pays: A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States,” 3rd Edition, once again shows Washington as 50th out of 50 states in having the most regressive state and local taxes.
A flip through the report shows that many states (such as Vermont, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Missouri, Kansas, Idaho, Colorado, California), have relatively flat state and local tax rates across all income groups, in the 8% to 9% of income range. Washington’s rates for its poorest quintile are 17.3%. Going upwards from there, 4th- 12.7%, 3rd- 11.2%, 2nd- 9.5%. These 80% of the people need their taxes lowered.
The top quintile is broken into three groups, and the rate continues to decline as income goes up-
.81 to .95 pay 7.6%—these folks need a small tax increase
.96 to .99 pay 5.5%—these folks need a 50% tax increase
Top 1% pay 2.6%—these folks need their taxes quadrupled.
And that would leave us with a relatively flat system, not a progressive one, which is the goal of our platform. Total revenue needs to increase so as to adequately fund K-20 education without the need for M&O levies, and a single-payer health care system under an ACA waiver. I dare say we could find some cuts in agency administration, corporate welfare, and oppressive law enforcement.
I-1098 would only have made the barest of beginnings to fix this problem, yet it was opposed by many “Democrats,” and not pushed very vigorously by many others. Increasing “sin” taxes to raise revenue just makes things more regressive. Although the poor supposedly have the option of avoiding them, alcohol and nicotine, in the short run are cheaper than, and substitute for, access to actual health care, especially mental health care. Nibbling at the edges of this problem will accomplish nothing. We need to drastically reduce sales tax, provide real property tax relief to low-income folks through a homestead exemption (state constitutional amendment required), and institute a broad-based, progressive income tax to raise 40 to 60% of the states revenue.
“Everyone has to pay their fair share” must become the dominant message on tax policy in Washington. This message will never resonate with the elites who currently fund campaigns. It is unlikely the marginalized, disaffected voters needed to win on this sort of platform can be reached through mass media advertising. (Obama’s “Change you can believe in” did just that, then he pulled the football away, leaving us in worse political shape than before his campaign). Direct grassroots organizing is required. Our party is not geared to do it and is highly resistant to the very idea. So highly resistant, they will mobilize resources AGAINST candidates that attempt to do it (like recruiting corporate democrats who call themselves progressive to run against them). The unions are no longer sufficient to do it, although there are signs they are at least trying in some cases. Occupy is a hopeful sign, but there is significant pushback against attempts to actually achieve political goals and resistance to help from experienced political types in shortening their learning curves.
I have no illusion that enough new progressives and occupiers will file for PCO in May to enable us to redirect the party apparatus significantly. A shame, because that is the most cost- and labor-effective way to get going. That leaves us with the organizing equivalent of house-to-house fighting. One thing we’re thinking about out here in the boonies is acting to accumulate food resources so we can feed people as an organizing tool. As we go forward reaping the rewards of electing candidates who promise that growth will solve our problems for us, I expect food to be in increasingly short supply.