Editorials are meant to express an opinion, but they shouldn’t be a platform for speculation — nor should they play fast and loose with the facts. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the The Daily News does in its May 11 editorial on Initiative 1077 (now I-1098).
First case in point: TDN speculates that “backers of [the initiative] are expressing confidence that voters will embrace a state income tax…based largely on a King5/SurveyUSA poll showing that two-thirds of those surveyed support [it].” A moment’s thought dispels this silly notion. Would the people who have helped bring the initiative forward really do so on the basis of a single poll that they didn’t even commission themselves? A poll completed after the initiative was launched? Not likely.
Next up, TDN claims the survey was misleading because it “assert[s] that the measure would reduce the state property tax by 20 percent.” Did they even read the poll question? It clearly states the measure would “cut the state’s portion of the property tax by 20%” — which makes it pretty obvious there are other “portions” that won’t be cut.
And, like the saying goes, “the hits just keep on coming.” TDN next writes that the proposed B&O tax credit “might make this tax go away from some small businesses, but certainly not all.” If they had bothered to ask the Washington Department of Revenue before writing that, they would know the measure will exempt an estimated 81% of all Washington businesses from B&O taxes (up from 43% currently), and cut taxes for another 12%. That isn’t “some” businesses — it’s the vast majority of them.
TDN goes on to claim the measure won’t make Washington’s tax system less regressive, because it won’t lower sales taxes. It’s refreshing to see them acknowledge just how unfair our state’s tax structure really is — but they’ve overlooked the fact that the proposed cut in property taxes will lower taxes for the 2/3rds of Washington residents who are homeowners, and might even provide some room for landlords to lower rent a bit for their tenants. (Not to mention the fact that reduced property and B&O taxes for businesses can be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices.)
Finally, they drag out the old canard about scaring rich people out of the state, writing that an income tax will “give employers and other enterprising citizens incentive to look elsewhere for opportunities.” To where, exactly? After all, Oregon has an income tax. So does California. As does Idaho. And 40 other states, all of which have wealthy people living within their borders.
Put simply: TDN’s editorial is long on rhetoric, but short on the facts to support their position.
Looking for more information about Initiative 1098? Visit the Economic Opportunity Institute website.