Quickie Link: Walmart Workers Cost Taxpayers $6.2 Billion In Public Assistance

Report: Walmart Workers Cost Taxpayers $6.2 Billion In Public Assistance

Walmart’s low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing, according to a report published to coincide with Tax Day, April 15.

Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 400 national and state-level progressive groups, made this estimate using data from a 2013 study by Democratic Staff of the U.S. Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“It found that a single Walmart Supercenter cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.75 million per year, or between $3,015 and $5,815 on average for each of 300 workers.”

Senator Reuven Carlyle explains why he voted against the McCleary deal: the entire burden is placed on the middle class

Video: Sen. Carlyle’s McCleary Floor Speech

Reuven Carlyle explaining his opposition to the McCleary deal


70% of low income people in King County are going to see a tax increase.
There is a perception that this is about taxing rich folk in the big cities [but it’s not so].

There is not one business in this state that does not win in terms of lower taxes in this deal. And the middle class is going to feel it deeply and seriously.

The entire weight, the entire obligation, the entire bill is being sent to the middle class, seniors, working folk, renters, and so many others. We have lots of people who are, effectively, house rich and cash poor because we’ve had an explosion in the past 10, 15 years of value in homes.

To put all of that burden, in a state with the most regressive tax system in the nation, all of the burden, exclusively on the middle class . We’re better than this. We could have made it fair, we could have made it equitable, and we could have made it widespread.

We haven’t closed any tax breaks of meaningful size. We haven’t done anything. We haven’t asked anyone else [other than the middle class] to contribute. Hundreds of millions of dollars in business taxes will be reduced. Hundreds of millions in this deal. And yet a retired grandma in Ballard will see 100s of dollars of increase for a home she’s lived in for 20 years.

To put that entire bill on that grandma in the middle class is just not right.

This middle class property tax increase is just too much, too high, too unfair, and too narrowly applied.

Refusal to re-balance taxes hinders schoolkids

It’s day 23 of a second special session in Olympia, since legislators couldn’t agree to a state budget before the end of the regular session. Now they have only 16 days left until the new two-year fiscal term. It will be hard to start that without a budget!


The cause for delay is a disagreement over how to increase funding for the state’s paramount duty: public education. Republicans have proposed increasing property taxes in cities; Democrats have talked about a carbon tax or a capital gains tax. Gov. Jay Inslee suggests a sales tax on goods purchased online. But none of those measure has enough support to pass.

That leaves us with the status quo — which is convenient for avoiding tough political decisions, but atrocious for our kids and schools. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the state was guilty of underfunding education. Two years later, the court found the Legislature in contempt for failing to remedy this constitutional violation. And in 2015 the Court imposed a $100,000 per day fine on the Legislature for their failure to act, which now totals $67.1 million.

The Legislature has already put a plan for fully funding education into law, but they haven’t given themselves the tools to fund it. Unable — or rather, unwilling — to remedy that fundamental problem, some are now trying to pretend it no longer exists. Both parties have touted the improvements to education funding in the last few years. But it’s like having a house with a leaky roof, then patting yourself in the back for putting on a new coat of paint: the reality contrasts with the rhetoric.

In terms of quality, Washington’s K-12 schools lag behind 19 states, according to the Education Week Research Center: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, Virginia, Illinois, North Dakota, Iowa, Delaware, and Nebraska. Part of those states’ success is their ability to maintain smaller student-teacher ratios: an average of 13 to 14 students per teacher. Washington has the seventh-worst ratio in the nation, at 19 students per teacher.

The only way to fix that is to hire more teachers. And that requires money. What would it take for our state to have class sizes like the states ahead of us? About $1.35 billion a year — but only if we could attract more teachers at current salaries!

Washington teachers are paid about 10 percent less than the national average, so we’re not attracting new talent. A beginning educator now earns only $35,700, even though the Legislature’s own technical working group recommended a starting salary of $54,000 next year. Raising teachers’ salaries to competitive levels would mean $2 billion a year in new public investments.

The Legislature is not even close to reaching those levels of funding. The core problem is that Washington state relies too much on regressive sales and property taxes, which mean poor and middle-class households pay four to seven times more of their income than those at the top. We can’t generate the revenue we need for public education with an upside-down tax system.

There are some options on the table. State law currently allows the very wealthy to accrue profit through stocks and bonds with no contribution to public good. A person pays no state tax when selling high-end financial assets. A capital gains tax — 92 percent of which would be paid by those with incomes over $600,000 a year — would generate about $700 million per year.

It’s nowhere near enough to cover the more than $3 billion we need to truly build a strong K-12 education system. But it’s a step in the right direction.

In the long run, the only realistic way we’re going to ensure educational opportunity is really a right for all children in Washington — and not a privilege for the lucky few — is with broad-based progressive tax reform that reduces taxes on low- and middle-income families, and increases them on the rich.

So far, our legislators have been loath to tax the wealthy. So we are left with this inconvenient truth: The wealthy are protected while the education of our children is undermined. The kids are not all right!

Original: Everett Herald »

What are we getting out of Boeing’s tax breaks?

As a young girl, my daughter had a fear of flying. She overcame this through a thorough study of airplanes and landed on the 737 as her preferred means of transportation in the air. So naturally, she asked for a Boeing T-shirt for a present. It says, “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!”

So let’s talk about Boeing. You might expect that Boeing would treat Everett as the jewel in the crown of its operations. That is certainly what the Boeing management led legislators and the governor to believe when the company demanded first a $3.2 billion tax concession from the state, and then another $8.7 billion.

But what did this recent tax giveaway to Boeing get us? A loss of close to 12,000 jobs, 15% of the total Boeing workforce in our state. That means that the state gave Boeing about $138,000 for every single job they took away!

Boeing just heralded its new 787-10, built in South Carolina. This was the first Boeing jet to make its first flight outside of Puget Sound. The company is forecasting that production of the earlier 787 models may slow down. Where will the planes not be built? Well, naturally, not in Boeing’s old home of Washington. That tax money we gave them? It just finances outsourcing of jobs and investment to other states and countries.

Boeing is spending billions of dollars in South Carolina and not in our state just to stick it to the unionized workers, the machinists and the engineers, in our state. There is no other reason, financial or otherwise, to forsake decades of investment in plant and workers. Remember how all this got started: Boeing took over McDonnell Douglas in 1997, but actually the McDonnell Douglas management took over Boeing. Right away, they went looking for a new Boeing corporate headquarters, not in Seattle.

The guy who oversaw this flight from and fleecing of our state was Harry Stonecipher. He dreamed up outsourcing the 787 to Japan, Italy, South Carolina and other places, which resulted in billions of dollars of cost overruns when the quality of this outsourcing was not good enough to fly safely in the new airplane.

As Jim Albaugh, chief of Commercial Airplanes at Boeing, explained in January 2011, “We spent a lot more money in trying to recover than we ever would have spent if we’d tried to keep the key technologies closer to home.” But Stonecipher was not fired for his mismanagement of Boeing, he was fired for his mismanagement of his personal life after it came out he was having an affair with another Boeing manager.

Washington has not only given billions to Boeing in tax breaks, it has invested in workers’ education to insure a pipeline of skilled employees for Boeing. At Edmonds Community College, the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center teaches manufacturing assembly, electrical assembly, quality assurance, aerospace tooling and aerospace composites. Everett Community College has both the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing and an aviation maintenance technology program. In 2012, the Legislature established the Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Pipeline Advisory Committee.

However, with Boeing’s job drain, we do not need a pipeline. These workers are picked off by companies in other states, with no investment by those states. Recently SPEEA, the Boeing engineers union, sent out a notice to its members about Lockheed Martin holding a Seattle job fair to hire for positions in California and Texas. So now aerospace companies are poaching Boeing workers from our state. These workers have been educated thanks to our public investments in K-12 and higher education to supply Boeing with a skilled workforce. Now Boeing does not need or want these workers.

Boeing is indeed going. There is no reason why the state of Washington must pay them to go. The Legislature should immediately close that $8.7 billion tax loophole, and put that money into education from pre-kindergarten through college. Then we would have workers ready for Washington companies, including aerospace companies, who are committed to our state. Boeing is not one of those.

Originally published a the Everett Herald

Partisan gridlock? A grand bargain that favors the 1%?

Re: Paralysis or a future of compromise? Here’s what the next president should do.

The only thing correct in that article is : Job No. 1 should be to do what neither party has done for the past 20 years — ease the plight and address the needs of working-class families battered by the downside forces of globalization, technology and slow growth. That’s the cohort Trump has been inciting with calls for protectionism and nativism. What is wrong is the solution – we can no longer have bipartisanship compromise because it isn’t between the liberals and conservatives, or between the Republicans and Democrats. It is between the rich 1% and the 99%.

No more compromise – time to rain money on the people, like our legislators have done on the banks, corporations, and rich. The 1% get 95% of our crated wealth since 2009. Corporations receive tax breaks – more than our total annual budget. Corporations receive more tax breaks than our annual national deficit. Corporations get more tax breaks than Social Security and Medicare combined. Corporations get 10 times more money then programs to support our needy families. Corporations get more than our national debt. Time to rain money on the people.

TIME FOR A Basic Income? Yes! For Every One, A Basic Income? Yes! Radical Ideas About Fixing Inequality.

TIME FOR Sanders’ Economic Plan: Why Sanders’ Economic Plan Is Best For The 99 Percent.

TRUTH BOMB – A fact spoken in clear, easy to understand terms and without bias. https://www.facebook.com/groups/TruthBomb/.

Quickie link: Tax evasion as a matter of principle

The Tax Evasion Double Standard: How US CEOs Are Withholding Revenue by Thom Hartmann

If I refused to pay any taxes until the US government lowered my taxes to a so-called “fair rate,” I’d almost certainly be arrested for tax evasion. But when The Washington Post asked Apple CEO Tim Cook about the billions that his company has stashed in tax havens around the world, Cook declared: “We’re not going to bring it back until there’s a fair rate. There’s no debate about it.”

Legislators have another chance to fix tax breaks, keep Boeing jobs in WA

I recently purchased a T-shirt from the Boeing store for my daughter, who is fan of the 737. It says, “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!” That may be true for her — but Boeing jobs are certainly on their way out of Washington.

How can this be? The Legislature met for a three-day special session in the fall of 2013, specifically to put in special tax breaks for the aerospace giant. That bill, sponsored by state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle,and state Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, was introduced one day, had one hearing in the House, one in the Senate and passed the next day.

Those tax breaks work out to about $550 million a year. Since they were made law, Boeing has moved 3,600 jobs out of our state. That makes the recent news about the company avoiding $20 million in sales taxes last year an especially bitter pill.

Boeing jobs are going to California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Missouri and South Carolina — but apparently not for the tax breaks in those states. The first three on that list have no special tax breaks for the company. Missouri‘s tax break amounts to $229 million over ten years, and requires Boeing to create 2,000 jobs to get it. South Carolina’s tax deal totals $1 billion, and requires the company to produce 5,800 jobs in that state.

Washington’s deal looks like gross largesse by comparison: a total of $12 billion in tax breaks since 2003 — with no requirement for new jobs, or even keeping existing jobs here! (Meanwhile, Boeing is developing a new finishing plant for the 737 in China.) If the Legislature had tied its tax “carrot” to jobs, we could have created up to 11,000 median wage jobs here. That would have been a fair trade.


Our legislators can fix what’s gone wrong. In fact, Reps. June Robinson, D-Everett, Mike Sells, D-Everett and Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace, have proposed legislation to tie tax breaks to jobs. House Bill 2147 would reduce Boeing’s tax breaks by increments for every drop in Boeing employment, starting with a baseline of 83,295 workers. That was Boeing’s Washington workforce when the tax breaks were passed. If Boeing shed 5,000 workers, then the tax break would dry up completely. The House Finance Committee gave this bill one hearing, and then sat on it.

Rep. Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac, Robinson, Sells, Moscoso, Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, and Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, have sponsored a bill to require aerospace companies taking advantage of the tax incentives to pay workers who have worked for them for three years at least 80 percent of the state’s median wage (about $16 an hour) by 2016, 90 percent by 2017, and 100 percent by 2018. The House Labor Committee passed this bill. From there, it went to the House Finance Committee, where again, nothing happened.

In January, state lawmakers will return to Olympia. Then those failures of legislative courage can be reversed by ensuring that the billion dollar aerospace tax breaks are tied to keeping good paying jobs right here in Washington.

Boeing ended its first quarter with a $9.6 billion cash cushion, after repurchasing 17 million shares for $2.5 billion and raising dividends by about 25 percent compared with a year ago. So Monday’s news about the $20 million Washington lost in sales tax revenue to the company looks like small potatoes.

But it’s a big deal for foster kids whose case managers are overstressed and overworked, trying to keep up with a workload that violates standards of care (and basic humanity). $20 million would enable our state to recruit and pay enough social workers to care for, protect and develop a pathway of hope and opportunity for these foster kids.

Those 32,000 students can’t get state financial aid even though they qualify, because legislators cut State Need Grant funding. $20 million would put college within reach for thousands of these students.

Those are just two of many examples. So what will it be when the Legislature convenes next month? Lumps of coal for those with the least, and billions of dollars for those with the most? Or will we recognize that giving tax dollars to a corporation that is shifting jobs out of our state is not a smart investment?

Originally published at the Everett Herald

Close loophole and college can be affordable

If you had a child at the University of Washington at the beginning of the Great Recession, you may have been set back by the tuition. In the 2008-09 academic year it was $7,254 (in today’s dollars), almost one-fifth of a full time job paid at the median wage.

You may have thought that was bad, but as revenue for the state has imploded and failed to recover since then, the state has disinvested from public higher education. How was the difference made up? Through increased tuition. That’s why tuition is now $12,393 this year — a $5,000 increase since 2008. It also takes a bigger bite out of a smaller pay check, as median wages have fallen during this time by almost $1 an hour.

So as a result, tuition for the University of Washington now takes up almost one-third of the typical wage earner’s annual salary. That student and her family are left on their own. Their income is too high to qualify for any significant tuition assistance, and besides, there is a waiting list to get the little assistance there is.

What can we do? State Sens. John Braun, R-Centralia, and Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, have an idea. They introduced a bill to cut tuition at our four-year colleges. Now, their bill has loopholes for mandatory fees like “student activity fees.” But it goes in the right direction! They propose tying tuition to a percentage of the state’s average wage. The average wage is now $52,635 a year. (That may not make sense to you, but remember, this is not the typical wage of a middle class worker — this average is thrown off by the million dollar pay packages of the top 1 percent.)

Under their proposal, University of Washington and WSU tuition could be no more than 14 percent of the average wage — that is, $7,369. For the regional universities, like Western Washington University, tuition could not exceed 10 percent of the average wage. So instead of being almost $9,000, tuition at Western would fall to $5,264.

Braun and Bailey’s bill could do better for students at Everett Community College and all the other community colleges in our state. They propose reducing current tuition and fees of $4,000 by just $59. These community college students make up about four-fifths of the students in our public higher education system. They are typically lower income part-time workers trying to go to college, earn a living, and keep their family together. They deserve a break, too.

But let’s take this bill and ask: What’s the total cost? About $226 million. Look around the bill, turn over its pages, look in the margins, and you won’t find any funding source. Without funding, these tuition cuts are completely hypothetical. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

What could the funding source be? Our tax code is full of holes for privileged corporations. One loophole enables companies to invest (or gamble) their money in financial stocks on Wall Street and not pay any taxes on the profits that they gain. That’s a perverse loophole to start with, because it encourages companies to NOT invest in plant and equipment in our state. Why? Because the revenue they get from sales of products in Washington will be taxed, while anything they make from the money they give Chase Bank or Bank of America or Citicorp to invest is tax-free. This one loophole costs our state about $342 million.

It’s that simple. Close this tax loophole — one that encourages companies to take our money and run — and the Legislature could responsibly and permanently reduce tuition at our public colleges and universities.

Over the past decades escalating tuition has erected a higher and then even higher barrier to education for low-income and middle class students. Tuition blocks the pathway to what is supposed to be public higher education. What is a higher priority for us here in Washington: higher education for our children or Wall Street profits? We all know what that answer should be and what it can be!

Originally published at EOI Online