The purpose of this page is to collect resources and facilitate discussion about the movement to make Washington State’s taxes more progressive.
The guiding document for this movement is the MoveOn.org petition Let’s fix our unfair tax system in Washington State. If that link isn’t working you can read a local copy here.
The issue is that Washington State has an upside-down, regressive tax system — meaning that the poor and the middle class pay a higher state tax rate than the rich.
The petition asks the governor and legislature to form a commission to recommend changes to our tax system. The petition also asks them to educate the public about the issues.
One might say: why do we need another commission? Won’t that just postpone action?
The reason for the commission is that the public obviously isn’t informed about the regressiveness of the tax system. (Probably many people don’t even know what the word “regressive” means — hence our use of the word “Unfair” in the title of the petition.) Our lawmakers, even the Democrats, are afraid to raise the issue of taxation, because the voters are so taken in by the right wing framing of the issue. The commission is a means to educate the public and to provide “cover” for the lawmakers.
The commission might be modeled after the 2002 Gates Commission: See Tax Alternatives for Washington State: Report to the Legislature. The Gates Commission was authorized by the legislature in Section 138, ESSB 6153, with these committee members.
Democrats need to stop letting the Republicans control the framing of these issues. Some people would accuse the Democrats of being almost as bad as the Republicans and of selling out the middle class and the poor for campaign funds. I think that there are many good Dems, but they need a nudge and a push and a hand. Democrats can say:
Republicans want you to pay higher taxes than the rich!
Moreover, Democrats need to fight back against the ridiculous and harmful Republican attack on government. That attack has gotten more extreme in recent years, with the rise of the astro-turf Tea Party.
Feel free to add comments below, using this website’s Comment system, or using the facebook/yahoo/aol/hotmail plugin. Better yet, join the google webforum: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/wafairtaxes .
On Thursday, Nov. 7 petition authors Don Smith and Steve Zemke lobbied legislators and the governor in Olympia. We met with half a dozen legislators and an equal number of legislative aides for absent legislators. And we met for 40 minutes with three of Gov. Inslee’s budget advisers, presenting the petition and related material. We plan to find legislators to support a bill, which might not be passed for a year or two. This is a long-term plan, and results may not come quickly. In the meantime, we need to market our messages, because lawmakers won’t act unless there is sufficient pressure from the public.
An example of the type of activism needed is shown in the following video, reporting on the work of Bill Moyer and the Backbone Campaign:
Related sites and pages: