House budget address state tax system’s unfairness

The single best decision I’ve made in my life was to enroll at the University of Washington fresh out of a New Jersey high school way back in 1969. From that 3,000-mile relocation ensued a valuable education, a great marriage, a deeply satisfying fatherhood, a rewarding career in urban planning and what I expect to be Washington residency to my final breath.

I remain smitten with Washington after all these years. I love sailing its waters and cycling its byways. I love the yin and yang of its abundant western and eastern natural splendors. I love the growing diversity of its population and how new cultural threads strengthen our statewide fabric. And I love the fact that we, as a state governed by and for the people, have stood strongly for human rights for all those desiring to live here.

Many share this multi-faceted affection, of course. But as much as we may love our state, we need to acknowledge that there’s inequity in Paradise. And we need to do something about it.

Families in our state earning less than $21,000 annually pay 16.8 percent of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest families pay only 2.4 percent in taxes. In other words, our working families are taxed at a rate up to seven times higher than what the richest households pay. That makes Washington’s tax code the most upside-down in the nation in terms of equity.

The proposed Democratic House budget recognizes this imbalance and endeavors to clean up the tax code via measures to reduce the number and size of allowances, exemptions and other breaks special interests have carved out for themselves over the years. As one example, the proposed budget would close a loophole currently allowing avoidance of taxes on certain capital gains. This measure by itself would generate almost $1 billion annually for education, infrastructure and other expenditures directly benefiting Washington citizens.

Special interests seek special protections; it’s what they do, as the insurance company commercials say. But I’d like to think that the interests of Washington wage earners and their kids are pretty special, too, and the proposed Democratic House budget ensures that they are given the respect and attention they deserve.

Please let your legislator know you support the Democratic House budget proposal.

Bill Wiselogle


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