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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 7, 2009 at 5:00 PM

State income tax proposal

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John Lok / The Seattle Times

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, center, addresses the media recently as she and other members of the Senate announce their budget proposal. With her, from left, are Sens. Rodney Tom, Maragarita Prentice and Chris Marr.

Need the enhanced revenue stream

Editor, The Times:

What an unconstructive response your board has made to Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s proposal for a state income tax [“Gasp! Another try at an income tax,” Opinion, editorial, April 3].

State legislators are struggling with a deficit of unprecedented proportions. All the progress Washington state has made in the past four years is in danger of being wiped out.

Thousands of our young people will lose the opportunity to attend college. Early-learning programs so vital to children are being cut. Public health is being endangered by cuts to vaccine programs and reproductive health. Class sizes in our public schools will increase; teachers are being laid off. Health care under the basic health plan is being severely cut. Public safety may be endangered through early prisoner release. The list is long, draconian and will negatively effect every citizen in some way.

We need an enhanced revenue stream; a progressive income tax is the fairest way to provide for the vital services we all need.

Your response to Brown’s proposal was totally political and included no analysis of the budget shortfall or any suggestion of solutions to our revenue problems. You have a responsibility to educate. You failed totally in this responsibility.

— Laurence and Rosalie Lang, Seattle

Tax will morph into something bigger

Excellent editorial this past Friday on the reality of a state income tax. That is interesting that the tax base would need to be broadened well beyond what Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown claimed to have an impact.

From a spending perspective, we ought to be highly suspicious of politicians’ ability to limit a state income tax to those with high incomes. Initially, the federal income tax was just a small percent on the largest incomes; just look at what a monster federal spending has morphed into over time.

Once government has got its foot in the door, it is most often nearly impossible to get it back out.

— Chris Waldorf, Seattle

Punitive tax is unconstitutional

It occurs to me that Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown might suffer from Northwest regional myopia. Should Brown, a Democrat, have paid closer attention to the leader of the United States, President Barack Obama, she would be aware that President Obama stated that he was not going to allow any tax on the AIG executives’ bonuses, as it would be unconstitutional. His constitutional-law professor from Harvard agreed. It would have represented a punitive tax on a segment of United States taxpayers, which is not in keeping with our federal Constitution.

Punishing only the rich in Washington state would be no less an unconstitutional act than taxing the bonuses of a defined and separate group of executives.

Instead of thinking about taxing the rich only, it seems that Brown would be far more prudent if she thought about how Washington state ended up in this mess in the first place: by passing expensive entitlement legislation such as the Washington State Family Leave Entitlement Program, which also allows payments to undocumented workers, as acknowledged by this state’s Employment Security Department.

A ludicrous thought.

— Spencer Lehmann, Seattle

Current tax system is unfair

We need a state income tax. Since I moved here in 1962 from a state that had an income tax to fund schools, I’ve thought this state’s tax system was unfair.

During 30 years teaching in the Seattle Public Schools, much of my time, beyond the school day, was spent campaigning to pass levies for basic instructional needs. Still, funding was inadequate. This should not be.

Now, faced with budget deficits, cuts to essential services to those most in need are required. Meanwhile, personal incomes for the wealthy continue to grow in Washington state. This is little comfort to those who cannot find jobs, or are working part-time at low-paying and multiple jobs while trying to find work commensurate with their education and abilities. Nor does it help those unable to work: the infirm, the aged, the children.

Low and middle classes pay proportionally more than the wealthy. This is not fair. The poorest pay about 16 percent of their incomes to state taxes, while those making more than $130,000 per year pay about 6 percent.

Washington’s tax structure is the most regressive of all 50 states. The inequality is exacerbated when services many rely on, that the wealthy may not need, are cut.

— Pat Collier, Vashon Island

Comments | More in Taxes, Washington Legislature

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