From 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.