On Sunday Washingtonians took to the air, land and sea to challenge Washington’s wealthiest corporations and individuals to share the economic sacrifices with working families.
Joggers, picnicking families and boaters visiting Seward Park were greeted with an unusual sight Sunday afternoon. Huge banners, launched with helium balloons, visible from Paul Allen’s Mercer Island estate, challenged Washington’s wealthiest corporations and individuals to share the economic sacrifice with working families. Those walking down to the water to catch a better look were greeted with a song and dance routine, “Change Your Evil Ways,” targeting billionaire Paul Allen and other wealthy opponents of a state income tax.
The groups partnering for the event, Backbone Campaign and Washington Community Action Network, point to state budget cuts in healthcare and education as two consequences of the failed tax initiative 1098, and that working families are shouldering the economic burdens of the tough economy. They pointed out that high-wage earners, like Paul Allen whose massive Mercer Island offshore helipad was a target of Sunday’s action, provided funding for the defeat of last year’s I‑1098, despite there extreme wealth. I-1098 would have called on top earners to share in the economic sacrifice that has plagued Washington’s state and local governments. Allen was joined by other tech sector giants on the list of top contributors to I-1098’s defeat. Allen gave $100,000, Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon), Judith and Jon Runstad also matched Allen’s contribution, while Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer gave a whopping $425,000 to defeat the effort.
Yolanda Tinoco, a member of Washington CAN! from Bellevue said, “It doesn’t take an AP Calculus teacher to explain why we are frustrated. Our children and schools need funding. We are already making a sacrifice. It’s time we share that sacrifice with the Richest like Paul Allen who lobby everyday to keep their tax breaks in place. Paul Allen lobbies against Washington families.” Yolanda is a mother of three, PTA member and after school tutor in Bellevue where she lives.
Rachel De Cruz, also of Washington Community Action Network, pointed out that the wealthiest 1% of Washington residents pay less than 3% of their income in state taxes, while the poorest 20% pay 17% of their income in state taxes.
Washington Community Action Network, Washington CAN!, is the largest grassroots organization in the state with over 35,000 members. They work for social, racial and economic justice.
Backbone Campaign was formed in 2004 on Vashon Island to bring creative arts and spectacle to the movement for justice. Backbone has worked across the United States to enliven community organizing, teaching street theater and political artistic expression on a grand scale, and using cross-educational opportunities to bring front-line change-makers into conversations with leading minds on global and community issues.