Everything Else Is Just Talk

The truth is, education reform without tax structure reform is a hollow promise, and we’ll never be able to sustainably fund K-12 and higher education until we move to a fairer and more adequate tax system. Everything else is just talk.”

              –Goldy, from the inimitable horsesass.org

Governor Chris Gregoire talked the talk in front of the Washington State Labor Council on Thursday and her message was clear: the 2010 Supplemental Budget cannot be just another orgy of cuts.  She didn’t come right out and say the word Taxes, but the crowd of labor leaders and state employees certainly heard it that way.  

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The halftime show of this year’s battle over cuts versus revenue takes place on Monday on the Capitol steps in Olympia, where the Teabaggers will be going toe to toe with the Rebuilding Our Economic Future Coalition.  The Teabaggers are scheduled for 10 a.m., with the sane people following at noon.  

The betting line on who will turn out the bigger and louder crowd remains even money, but it’s pretty clear which way the larger wind is blowing.  Say whatever you want about Massachusetts and Centerfold Scott, out here voters in Oregon and Washington have seen the light on new revenues to get us through the economic crisis.  Oregon passed new taxes handily last month and new school levies are winning overwhelmingly in Washington.  All those legislators who worry that a yes vote on taxes will hurt them in the next election might need to start worrying that a no vote will hurt them worse.

It’s not just because we’re lazy, greedy state employees sucking on the public tit that we here at the blog support new revenues.  

Along with the usual and obvious arguments about how many people will die, go broke, lose their jobs, and be denied access to an education if we keep cutting the state budget, there is also a pretty solid argument that new revenues will save and create jobs and boost the economy.  Check out this analysis (pdf) from the Economic Opportunity Institute.

The problem with tax talk is not that we’re talking about raising taxes, but that we’re not going far enough.  The legislators who are voting right now to suspend Tim Eyman’s oligarchical Initiative 960 are not going to go any further than closing loopholes on people who don’t vote for them, taking a bigger bite out of our sugar and drug vices, and maybe some slight new sales taxes.

It remains a moral failing of Washington’s political system (and probably the thing that gives Eyman, Inc. it’s faux populist life) that we remain a state with a low tax base but a very high rate of tax on people least able to pay.  If we were to get religion here at the blog, we would probably think it a sin that poor people in this state get taxed at four times the rate of rich people.  It is a shame that while there will probably be a tax increase in this legislative session, there won’t be tax reform to go with it.       

So come to the rally on Monday and talk the talk to give our representatives the courage to walk the walk.

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