In the long run, the only realistic way we’re going to ensure educational opportunity is really a right for all children in Washington — and not a privilege for the lucky few — is with broad-based progressive tax reform that reduces taxes on low- and middle-income families, and increases them on the rich.
The clock is winding down on a second special session in Olympia, and legislators haven’t yet made serious progress on their paramount duty to amply fund K-12 education, despite an order from the state Supreme Court to do so. Meanwhile, newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal isn’t waiting around.
Seattle’s proposed income tax ordinance would mean new revenue for housing, education and other community needs. And it would help fix our upside-down tax code, where low-income workers pay a rate seven times higher than the richest households.
It may seem counter-intuitive that we should focus on trees, when we live in the Northwest, surrounded by mountains and forests. But when you consider urban and suburban growth, trees have been losing out. Our forests are now on their third growth cycle, with smaller and less healthy trees. The giants are gone. So one way to take back a little of our natural heritage is to plant a tree.
We have to start somewhere, said John Burbank, director of the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle, who is spearheading the plan. “Think of this as opening up a pathway to progressive taxation that could eventually include all those billionaires, the uber super-wealthy,” Burbank said.
We all knew that our car tabs would increase a lot in 2017 to help fund Sound Transit. So when the first invoices arrived, the vast majority of people just paid their tabs. But a vocal minority, with big tabs from expensive cars, took their displeasure to Olympia, hoping that the Legislature would listen to their stories and disregard the will of the people. Now we have a bipartisan attack on Sound Transit, with both Republicans and Democrats offering proposals for defunding.
You might expect that Boeing would treat Everett as the jewel in the crown of its operations. That is certainly what the Boeing management led legislators and the governor to believe when the company demanded first a $3.2 billion tax concession from the state, and then another $8.7 billion. What did this recent tax giveaway to Boeing get us? A loss of close to 12,000 jobs, 15% of the total Boeing workforce in our state. That means that the state gave Boeing about $138,000 for every single job they took away!
It should be no surprise that increases in the minimum wage result in job increases. It is a matter of actual human behavior in the private market, not an imaginary economic model.
Washington’s Legislature is more than halfway through its 2017 session and a lot of good bills have gone to the chopping block. The issues that have made it this far in the process are still alive because individuals and organizations spoke up, identified real life problems, and urged legislators to make the system more fair for people like them.
Immigrants planted the seeds for cross-country skiing in the Northwest. They included Norwegians, Swedes and Finns, who came over to our country with the same hopes and dreams of today’s immigrants, and, just as more recent immigrants do now, added their cultures, their knowledge and their work to our American democracy.
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