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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 21, 2009 at 4:00 PM

State taxes

Reminder to support social programs

The outpouring of support for Gene Sargent, an older gentleman whose misfortune was reported in The Times, shows that people have compassion for those who have fallen on hard times [“Help rolls in for senior living in truck,” page one, April 20].

But, sadly, there are too many people in need for The Times to report on each individually. That is why we pay taxes to support social programs.

— Ellen Koretz Whitton, Seattle

Situation creates tough education choices

Having completed my fifth 10-hour day this week in my first-grade classroom, I was asked by my district to complete an online survey which asked questions such as, “What is more important, class size or busing? What is more important, new textbooks or tech support? What is more important, school secretarial support or lunchroom and playground support?”

Believe me, having to choose what is more important from a list where all of the items are critical to the education of my students was not a fun way to finish a tough week.

Washington state already has the fourth-largest class size in the nation and is only thirty-third in per-pupil spending. We have been trying to do more with less for the last 10 years, and now we are facing more cuts.

During spring break, an article in the Las Vegas Sun caught my eye: “What rich don’t spend, Nevada leaves untaxed.” It was an article on regressive state tax systems. Yes, Washington state was at the top of that list because it does not have an income tax. Why? Because our governor and legislators are so worried that they won’t get re-elected that they won’t even propose getting an income tax on the ballot.

So now we are trying to run a state on sales taxes during a recession. The result is cuts in every single program in our state — programs that will affect every schoolchild, senior citizen, person who drives on a highway, or family that would like to go camping at a state park.

I’m happy to pay taxes to support programs that I cannot provide for my family. I cannot build roads, maintain parks, educate children, or take care of our sick, elderly and neglected. These are jobs that must be done and should be done by all of us collectively through our state government. These programs cost money and all of us should have the opportunity to pay our fair share.

If our governor and legislators are afraid to present a state income tax system to our voters, I for one know what I will be doing next election day. I will be voting for someone who has the courage to solve our state’s antiquated tax system.

— Karen Anderson, Shoreline

Sales tax a double-edged sword

Isn’t it ironic that the people who will allegedly benefit from an increase in the sales tax recommended to go before the voters in the fall are the same people who will also suffer the negative effects? It’s a double-edged sword for the senior citizens, low-income and disabled being cared for at home when they have to pay the increased sales tax on prescribed medical equipment while their neighbors in 47 other states do not pay sales tax on these items.

Why can’t the legislators in Olympia get the tax issues and their priorities right? Why do they vote for an exemption on hybrid cars, which can be more than $3,000, and continue to ignore this inequitable tax?

Why does Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown continue to talk about fairness to the citizens of this state and not address the issue of this unjust tax? [“Brown: Fairness, not politics driving income-tax pitch,” page one, April 17] After nine years of trying to get it removed, it’s time that all in the Legislature put their votes where their rhetoric is and get rid of this tax once and for all.

Maybe then some of us will believe that our legislators really mean what they are saying about fairness to all citizens.

— Nancy S. Campbell, Mill Creek

Comments | More in Taxes, Washington Legislature

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