It's a good time to talk about money, who has it and who doesn't, especially with the Legislature at loggerheads about the budget. Why? Because the taxes that fund our state's budget come largely from the money we all spend. Notice I said “money we all spend,” not “money we all make”?
As this Father’s Day approaches, I’m reminded that just as struggling moms need fair pay and paid family leave a lot more than flowers, fathers need these policies, too –more than a new tie or camping toaster.
It's an ode to cognitive dissonance when pundits come out swinging (rhetorically) against a strong minimum wage or decent pensions for everyday working people but don't even bat an eyelash at big-time CEOs who take home millions of dollars a year or outsource local jobs — especially when the economic evidence for the former, and against the latter, is so strong.
As John Burbank of the Economic Opportunity Institute wrote in an opinion piece for The (Everett) Herald: "Pensions did not make retirees wealthy . . . but they did keep retirees economically secure."
While we may think that the Legislature is stuck in limbo, it is good to recognize that it enacted a new policy to make it easier for workers and employers to establish retirement savings plans and put money into those plans.
Could we in Washington state make it possible for all citizens to earn enough for a good quality of life and be able to enjoy an peaceful retirement? Of course. The problem is that most money is migrating to the very top, leaving middle class incomes stagnant.
Neither party has a long-term plan for fully funding K-12 education, higher education, mental health, public employee contracts and teacher cost-of-living adjustments. Why not? Because neither party has the will to implement systemic changes in our tax system. But, as our state treasurer, Jim McIntire, states, “it is mathematically impossible to sustain any education system with our state's shrinking tax base.”
Our state’s public structures and services are the oil of our economic engine. From roads to bridges, preschool to college, veterans benefits to senior services, and protections for our air and drinking water, we’re all better off when we invest in strong communities. But there’s a big red warning light on our dashboard: Low Oil.
Hundreds of special corporate tax giveaways now riddle Washington’s tax code. We’re losing billions we could be investing for the common good. Meanwhile, the taxes that remain fall much harder on the little guy, while leaving the wealthy alone.
Tuition for the University of Washington now takes up almost one-third of the typical wage earner’s annual salary. Students and their families are left on their own too often. What can we do? Two of our State Senators have an idea. Right now, their bill to cut tuition at our state's four-year colleges is just a dream. But it doesn't have to be this way. Our tax code is full of holes for privileged corporations. Closing just this one would allow the legislature to permanently reduce tuition at our public colleges and universities.
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