34th District Democrats: Initiative 1098 briefing, and more

checkbox.jpgFrom last night’s 34th District Democrats meeting in Fauntleroy: The main event was a presentation in support of higher-earners-income-tax initiative I-1098, which the group already has endorsed; meantime, they took stands on two other ballot measures – read on for the details:

I-1098 PRESENTATION: This was given by Marilyn Watkins from the Economic Opportunity Institute, who acknowledged that the campaign for the measure, which her organization supports, “is going to be a big fight.” The overall contention is that our state’s budget relies too much on sales taxes and has to change because that’s just not working any more. Her presentation was statistics-laden – here are the major points:

*110,000 of its reported 370,000 signatures were gathered by volunteers – “the only initiative qualified with that kind of volunteer power behind it”

*Arguments for it – “We need to invest more in education and health care” because Washington fell from #17 in spending per pupil in 1991 to #37 by 2006; “our current tax structure can’t produce more without hurting families”

*What will it do? Her summary: Bring in $1 billion a year by adding a 5% income tax for those making $200,000+ (couples $400,000+), 9% tax for those over $500,000/$1 million … “reduce property tax for everyone” ($20/month if your Seattle home is worth about half a million) … eliminate the B&O tax for “small businesses.”

*How much will higher-income earners wind up paying? Watkins’ example showed a “net new tax” of $4,382/year for a couple making half a million dollars a year, $163,000 “net new tax” for a couple making $3 million/year. “But even with 1098, (the state) will have only 11 percent of revenues coming from income tax” – less than most states, she said.

*Why top earners can afford it: They “really get off the hook” in the state’s current “regressive” tax system, Watkins contended. Her statistics showed that while people with the lowest income level pay 17 percent of it in state/local taxes, those with the highest income level pay only 2 percent of it. (The US averages for those two numbers, she said, is 10 percent/5 percent, and she offered some comparisons from other states, such as neighboring Idaho, where she said it’s 8 percent/6 percente.)

*What will opponents say? This was the last portion of her briefing, in which Watkins warned that a “well-funded opposition (will) be running a lot of attack ads” to inflame voters’ tendency toward “anti-tax sentiment.” For those who say it’s a slippery slope toward income tax for everyone, she noted that the initiative says any change has to go to a “vote of the people”; for those who say this will lead rich people to move out of state, she noted that Washington currently is one of only seven states without an income tax.

*”When, if not now?” she asked, in conclusion, pointing out that factors making this potentially ripe for passage include the budget crisis and an “effective coalition.” She added, “I think this is our best shot in a generation to make a change in our tax structure, to fulfill the promises for funding education that we have been making and don’t otherwise have any chance to fulfill.” You can read the I-1098 text in this PDF from the state website.

OTHER BALLOT MEASURES: As noted in this morning’s meeting summary atop the group’s home page, they took action last night on two other ballot measures, endorsing “yes” on Referendum 52 (to retrofit school buildings) and “no” on workers-compensation-privatizing Initiative 1082.

GARDEN PARTY: Nuse announced that Friday, August 13th is the date for the 34th DDs’ popular annual fundraiser, and that it will have a New Orleans theme. He says they’re hoping to get “New York Vinnie” Richichi back as the auctioneer again this year, despite the fact that Richichi has moved from West Seattle to Pittsburgh since last year. Chris Porter reminded the group that it’s impossible to pull off a big event successfully without lots of volunteer help, and urged people to pitch in.

CANDIDATE KICKOFFS: Rep. Eileen Cody‘s re-election campaign kickoff is coming up at her West Seattle home a week from tonight, and State Sen. Joe McDermott‘s King County Council campaign kickoff is coming up at 5:30 pm on July 26th at Mission in the Admiral District.

34TH DISTRICT DEMS’ ANNUAL PICNIC: Coming up July 27th at Lincoln Park picnic shelter #3, starts at 5:30 pm, “food, fun, no speeches,” promised chair Nuse.

ELECTED OFFICIALS ON HAND: Rep. Eileen Cody, State Sen. Joe McDermott,
Seattle School Board member Steve Sundquist and Burien City Councilmember Brian Bennett were on hand. With his toddler daughter in arms – noting it was the eve of her 3rd birthday – Bennett spoke to the group about several of his city’s current issues. Of most note for our readership, his support for potential Burien annexation of White Center and the rest of the remaining North Highline unincorporated area – we’ve summarized that on partner site White Center Now.

NEW EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER: Sabra Schneider, who briefly was in the running for 34th District State House Position 2, was elected last night as King County Committeewoman (Alternate).

NEW MEETING FEATURE: Chair Nuse announced a “parliamentarian’s minute” for each meeting. Jimmy Haun, the group’s parliamentarian, led the first one; Nuse described it as a way to make the meetings more accessible, even to those who aren’t steeped in the traditional procedures. Haun said parliamentary procedure is important for several reasons, including protecting the rights of those in the minority. For an excellent manual, he recommends Parliamentary Procedure at a Glance (Jones) and displayed his 61-year-old edition, saying you can find a copy online. “This will make you a parliamentary genius,” he promised.

The 34th District Democrats meet on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at The Hall at Fauntleroy, and keep a frequently updated website at 34dems.org.

11 Replies to "34th District Democrats: Initiative 1098 briefing, and more"

  • Concerned July 15, 2010 (8:43 am)

    To the 34th Democrats: stop taxing and reduce spending. Keep the essentials and cut away the fat before you dig into the taxpayers pockets again, no matter their income level. If you begin to segregate based upon income levels what do you think will happen?

  • Carson July 15, 2010 (9:00 am)

    To the 34th Democrats. Please fix our old and antiquated revenue system. Our current system is anti business and unreliable, the only fix is a mix of lower sales taxes and an income tax. I am sure you are up to the task….

  • 34th Election Watcher July 15, 2010 (9:25 am)

    I-1098 would virtually eliminate the Business & Occupation tax, which taxes gross receipts, on small businesses. So you might say that it is pro-business. Most of us would like to see a lower sales tax, but this is a good start.

  • Carson July 15, 2010 (9:41 am)

    I agree, its a great start and I hope someday the legislators have the guts to actually fix it and do whats right instead of doing what they always do, run scared.

  • Seattle Deadhead July 15, 2010 (10:05 am)

    1098 is a joke and is going to lose at the polls. The legislature routinely overturns or suspends initiatives when faced with fiscal problems, as they did with 728/732 and with 960 last session. 1098 will NOT solve the state’s fiscal problems, will NOT improve education or health care. It is just the unions/SEIU’s ploy to take more from the productive sector and give to the unproductive sector. You don’t think those subject to 1098 won’t move to Nevada? Or Idaho where the income tax there is on NET income, not AGI. Why no sales tax relief if the state is so regressive? The B&O “relief” is helpful but insignificant.

    Not surprising that the 34th libs lockstepped with labor on 1082. WA’s worker’s comp system is one of the most corrupt and incompetent in the US and needs major reform that 1082 will bring.

    Thanks for reporting what this clueless group of libs is talking about.

  • Chip Hellar July 15, 2010 (10:57 am)

    A few additional points:

    – The legislature has constitutional authority to add/change/throw out any portion of an initiative after two years with a simple majority (regardless of language in the initiative)

    – In 2009, the legislature transferred $67M out of the education trust fund into the general fund. Nothing in this initiative prevents this from happening again.

    – The Economic Opportunity Institute projections assume that 90% of the B&O tax will still be collected if 1098 is implemented.

    Sounds to me like the most successful businesses will be penalized first (leading to slower hiring and/or higher prices), then the income tax will extended to rest of us (without a guarantee that any of this will actually go towards needed funding of education).

  • 34th Election Watcher July 15, 2010 (11:01 am)

    Seattle Deadhead,
    Why on earth would the legislature overturn a new tax, approved by the voters, when they are frantically looking for ways to raise revenue in order to fund the education and health care you mention? And your comment implying that anyone making less than $250,000 a year is somehow unproductive is insulting to just about every working person living in this state. Furthermore, if the only reason anyone is living here is that there is no income tax, then they are welcome to move to Nevada or any one of the other SIX, yes SIX, states that does not tax income. Hope you enjoy Nevada. I hear it’s nice in the spring.

  • jim vaughn July 15, 2010 (11:24 am)

    I wrote three tongue and cheek initiatives that in spite of the initial humor have a serious message. My most popular was Initiative 1069 to change the state seal to a tapeworm dressed in a three piece suit attached the rectum of the tax payer. Around the vignette the words, “ Committed to Sucking the Life Blood Out of Each and Every Tax Payer.”

    My second initiative is a rebuttal to Bill Gates Sr. Initiative 1098. Ask yourself the following questions before you vote yes for Initiative 1098.

    1. Why would Bill Gates Sr. sponsor an initiative that would tax the rich?
    2. Does it have anything to do with the fact the legislature is preparing to give Microsoft a $100 million tax break and amnesty for $1 BILLION in tax evasion?
    3. After two years do you believe that the legislature would change the law to tax everyone?
    4. After reading section 1. below, do you believe our state is any different than Connecticut?

    Panhandling and Pick Pocket Tax For State Legislatures In Lieu of a State Income Tax

    Sec. 1. Whereas Initiative 960 was approved by the voters to prevent the following:

    In 1991, Connecticut was facing a revenue shortfall of about $2.7 Billion. Using that crisis, Connecticut’s governor pushed hard for a state income tax. The bill eventually passed. At the signing ceremony, Governor Lowell Weicker sounded optimistic. “When I sign this budget, Connecticut will be closing the book on its past and it’ll be facing toward the future.”

    17 years later, we have a good idea of what that future looks like: The income tax that was passed to close a $2.7 Billion deficit has been raised several times and now brings in over $7.5 billion a year. Add in the $350 million a year that the state currently receives from Indian Casinos, and Connecticut now collects nearly $8 billion more in revenue than it did in 1991.

    Despite all of those extra billions, Connecticut is still facing massive deficits $1.2 Billion this year and another $6 to $8 Billion over the next two years. How could this happen? In Connecticut’s case, out-of-control spending was the culprit. The point is that government knows how to get bigger. Try as they might to slim down, the natural order of things will always take over and ensure they grow larger than anyone thought possible. The only way to stop that, or at least slow it down, is by taking away their source of food: money and power. For this very reason the voters of Washington State passed Initiative 960 in an attempt to remove the tapeworm that is attached to the lower intestine of the taxpayers.

  • Carson July 15, 2010 (1:00 pm)

    Jim, have you ever thought about running for office? Spokane perhaps? PT Barnum is proved right every day!!!

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 16, 2010 (9:47 am)

    34th Election Watcher,

    It’s not that the legislature will get rid of the income tax in two years that we are afraid of. Those of us who are against this and aware of the ability of the legislature to change initiatives are VERY afraid that they will change the level of income that is taxed DOWN.
    Besides, 1098 is UNCONSTITUTIONAL IAW the State Constitution on how it applies a tax.
    This state is heading down the same road Calif did and look where they are at now. Approx 143,000 pay the TOTAL tax burden for the entire state.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 16, 2010 (9:51 am)

    Hey Carson,
    Jim sounds better than ANY of the Candidates running for City/County Clowncils and State Rapelisature running now.

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