Sound and fury, yet still loopholes

The voters spoke loudly in the November election, and while the politicians apparently heard the volume, I wonder if they heard the actual words.

Taxpayers want the state to be responsible with their money, want taxes to be levied both reluctantly and fairly, and want a reduction in management and bureaucracy, not a gutting of state services.

Yet, while Gov. Gregoire’s all-cuts supplemental budget scrutinizes every tax dollar spent on health care, education and other critical services, there are many tax loopholes and subsidies that have escaped the same scrutiny.

Why is it that the elimination of the Basic Health Plan — to save $26.8 million in the supplemental budget — is deemed fiscally necessary, but the $25 million we will give away to Wall Street banks in that same time period has not been questioned? How is it that the state can afford to give special tax treatment to owners of private jets, costing the taxpayers $5 million a year, but has to cut the $1.5 million that funds cancer screenings?

When the supplemental budget proposes a $5.3 million reduction in Community Health Center grants, but maintains sales tax exemptions for out-of-state coal and elective cosmetic surgery (for $2.75 million and $2 million, respectively), I am forced to wonder about the priorities of our government.

Fortunately, the governor’s budget is never the final word, and We the People are supposed to have a voice in Olympia. Call, email or visit your legislators, and tell them to close tax loopholes before cutting any more services. Tell them that fiscal responsibility includes tax fairness, and remind them that it’s their job to look out for us.

Tom Riggs
Camano Island

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