Washington State voters have approved an initiative, I-976, that will lower car tab fees and thereby deprive the state of funding for transportation projects. See ‘The ship’s going down’: After I-976, Washington officials fear for the future of transportation.
But there is an obvious, fair solution: Bill Gates, Jr. and Jeff Bezos, the two richest people on earth, should fill the budget gap. Each is worth over $100 billion and lives in Medina. If each paid 0.1% (over $100 million) of their fortunes every year they could cover the transportation deficit. The article above reports a “$458 million hole in the state’s current two-year transportation budget” — just about the right amount for Gates and Bezos to fill if each paid $100 million every year.
They owe it to Washingtonians for having earned their fortunes here and for having avoided paying taxes in the past. Washington State, with no state income tax, has the most regressive tax system in the nation.
Bezos donated money to defeat the 2010 income tax initiative. His company, Amazon.com, paid zero in federal taxes in 2018, despite having earned $11 billion; in fact, it received $129 million in tax rebates. Amazon paid no federal taxes in 2017 either. It overturned a Seattle “head tax” in 2018, and this year it tried to buy Seattle city council seats.
Gates avoided paying state taxes, by declaring Microsoft income in other states and countries.
Furthermore, as pointed out in this editorial in crosscut, Bezos and Gates depend on a functioning transportation system to do their business here in Washington State. Let them pay their fair share!
Our democracy and the health of the planet earth are at risk, and these guys are hording money. (Gates’ philanthropy is limited and apolitical; Bezos’ philanthropy is almost absent, except for his partial funding of the Washington Post.)
This must not be allowed to continue.
This is what we need: