Life, death and taxes. Plus: the sales tax debate, health care cuts, and an accelerating recession in WA

April 21, 2009 | Alex Stone

Life, death and taxes: Just 6 days left in the legislative session, and Olympia lawmakers are still finalizing a budget that accounts for an enormous drop in state tax revenues. Current proposals call for massive budget cuts to higher education, basic health and other fundamental public structures.  There’s debate over a temporary sales tax increase, despite its disproportionately high impact on low- and middle-income earners. | Wenatchee World

Speak of the devil (sales tax debate cont’d): The revenue choice getting the most “air time” is a 0.3 cent increase on the sales tax, projected to raise 1.1 billion over 3 years. And as long as the discussion stays there, working families will lose out. The new revenue would go to support important health care programs and a state earned income tax credit – but it will do nothing to limit special tax exemptions, and doesn’t restore equity to Washington’s tax structure, as low- and middle-income earners would pay even more of their income in taxes. Tax on high incomes, anyone? | The News Tribune

Savings costs, but not lives: House Bill 2431 cleared the House today and is headed to the Senate. Its purpose? To remove thousands of people from Washington’s Basic Health Plan (BHP) as a cost-saving measure. Washington’s BHP was designed to be most effective in tough economic times. Expect this move to have devastating consequences — not to mention higher long-term costs — as more people lose their jobs and health insurance. | seattlepi.com

Washington bankrupticies accelerating: The recession has begun to take hold in Washington in recent months. Not only did unemployment eclipse the national rate, but we now rank fifth in per capita bankruptcies. That number is up more than 50% from a year ago, reaching 7,000 in the first three months of 2009. Now more than ever we need responsible government policies that ensure economic security and prepare Washington workers to dig out of the recession. | Seattle Times

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Posted in Health Care, Retirement Security, State Economy, Tax and Budget, Work & Family

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