Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: taxes


A brutal winter ahead for Olympia’s Democrats

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington voters could hardly have been crueler to the Legislature’s Democrats.
On Tuesday, the electorate left the Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives and Senate – although with shrunken majorities.

At the same time, the citizens repealed new taxes on soda, bottled water and candy that had barely – and only temporarily – balanced the budget.

After those taxes were enacted, increasingly pessimistic economic forecasts had thrown the budget into a $500 million-plus shortfall through June. The shortfall for the 2011-2013 biennium had been estimated at $4.5 billion. The repeal of the new taxes added $272 million to what was already a dire fiscal crisis.

Deliverance might have come in the form of the new income tax proposed by Initiative 1098. But the voters drop-kicked that idea into British Columbia, rejecting the initiative by a massive, don’t-ask-me-again margin.

They also slammed shut the door on other new revenues sources by passing Initiative 1053, also by an overwhelming margin. I-1053 restored a suspended requirement that any tax increase must be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature or be put to the voters.
Read more »


America can’t keep living on the Visa

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Railing against taxes is a great American tradition, and Tax Day 2010 was no exception.

But if you listened closely to the tax protests here in Washington and across the country, what you heard was not so much a groundswell of concern over this year’s bill, but the ones coming due.

By and large, Americans are not unhappy about their income tax bill. A poll out this week found that 62 percent of respondents regard the amount they pay as fair.

No wonder: They are, on average, paying less this year than they have in a really long time. A recent analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center found that a median-income family of four will pay 4.6 percent of its income in federal income taxes this year – the second lowest percentage in the last 50 years.

Read more »


Read somebody’s lips – the VAT tax is on the table

For months now, the Obama administration has been floating – somewhat at arm’s length – the idea of a European-style value-added tax.

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, an Appropriations Committee chairman and major power in Congress, was in for a visit yesterday. He brought up the VAT entirely on his own – which suggests he’s getting invested in the idea. He sees it as a short-term tax dedicated exclusively to paying down the federal deficit.

And he sounded exasperated at his Republican colleagues’ “read my lips” opposition to any conceivable new taxes. “What if some modest adjustment is what it

Read more »


Legislature’s last chance to show restraint

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Biblical creation took seven days, including down time. Getting the Legislature to pass a responsible budget in the same time frame might take a miracle of similar proportions.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, in calling this week’s special session, gave lawmakers what amounts to an unofficial deadline. She wants the budget done in a week.

Nothing prevents the Legislature from lingering longer. Nothing restricts it from considering other legislation either. Nothing, that is, except good sense and self-preservation.

Read more »


Resist these temptations, lawmakers

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Of the hundred-odd foolish things that might yet come out of Olympia this winter, three stand out:

Raise the sales tax

Some new taxes appear necessary to save fundamentally important state programs, such as compensatory funding for property-poor school districts and financial aid for college students with low incomes.

It now seems too much to expect that the Democrats who control both House and Senate will squeeze more out of their core constituents – for example, by reopening state workers’ contracts, canceling scheduled raises and requiring them to pay what their

Read more »


State lawmakers’ elusive ticket home

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Democrats who kicked off the legislative session energized by their license to tax are finding liberation hard to manage.

It’s been nearly 12 weeks since Gov. Chris Gregoire sounded the all-clear to raise taxes. Yet with just 11 days in the regular session to go, lawmakers remain far apart on how to proceed.

Gone is the resolve of early January, when lawmakers arrived in Olympia looking determined to talk turkey rather than make like the ostriches they impersonated last year. Today, legislators aren’t hiding so much as looking lost.

Their newfound freedom appears to have left them adrift. To tax or not to tax was never the hardest choice facing the Legislature. Deciding whom to tax is far trickier.

Read more »


Taxpayers more discerning than rallies let on

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Forget head counts, or debates over whose message was purer. The only winner of Monday’s dueling rallies at the state Capitol were lawmakers of both parties who heard what they wanted to hear.

If only the state’s budget problems were as easy as declaring “no new taxes” or “no new cuts.” But governing is an art, not an accounting exercise.

Most Washingtonians – even some of the 9,000 people who thronged the Capitol steps, we suspect – want something much different from their Legislature than all-or-nothing propositions. They might be open to paying more taxes to protect crucial services, if they are convinced that state government had made commensurate sacrifices.

They will be watching the fate of bills like Senate Bill 6503. It was to be lawmakers’ response to public outrage over policies that have largely spared state workers the pain felt in the private sector.

Read more »


A comeback to our school levy editorial

David Groves, a state Labor Council spokesman and author of many an entertaining rant, emailed me this response to our editorial today about the passage of school levies.

Your editorial today fails to explain/consider why school levies passed so overwhelmingly this year as opposed to past years. Supporters ALWAYS remind folks that maintenance and operations levies don’t raise taxes. Why is this year any different? I can’t find one single M&O levy that failed in the entire state, can you? Has that ever happened?! I can identify several that failed to get 50% two years ago — when state coffers were flush and 51% of us were supporting I-960 – that passed this year with 60%! I don’t think there has ever been a levy election so successful for schools. EVER. So what’s changed?!

Read more »