Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Washingtonians contribute less to the common wealth than most Americans

This isn't really news, but since Tim Eyman constantly repeats the silly mantra that we're the fourth, seventh, third (or some other made up number) highest taxed state in the nation, it bears repeating:
Washingtonians pay less state and local tax relative to their incomes than residents of 36 other states, according to figures recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Washington ranked 37th nationally, paying an average of $105.91 in taxes for every $1,000 in personal income in Fiscal Year 2005, compared to a national average of $112.94. Washington ranked 29th in Fiscal Year 2004.

This is the lowest ranking for Washington since it dipped to 39th during a severe recession in 1982. Washington's ranking has declined from a peak of 11th in 1998, in part because personal income has grown faster than taxes.

Washington also fell below national averages in property taxes. Property taxes dropped by $1.08 to $30.60 per $1,000 of personal income in Fiscal Year 2005, although Washington 's ranking among the states remained at 28th, the same as in Fiscal Year 2004. Washington ranked 24th in property taxes per capita at $1,055 in Fiscal Year 2005, down from 22nd in the 2004 rankings.
What this data shows very clearly is that taxes are not exploding out of control as right wing libertarian zealots like Eyman claim they are. In fact, we're not investing in the common wealth as much as we should be. (Given this reality, on top of our cherished tradition of majority rule, Eyman's I-960 supermajority proposal makes absolutely zero sense. Zero).

Recent news articles about dilapidated and decaying infrastructure make it painfully obvious that the clock is running out on us. Our public schools are underfunded, communities across the Evergreen State are grappling with aging water and sewer systems, and money for parks, pools, and libraries is scarce. First responders continue to send small funding requests to voters just to maintain the current level of service. (Redmond will have two such levies on the ballot this August).

Luckily, on the issue of transportation, we have an opportunity to pass a comprehensive package of road and transit improvements this fall, including an extension of Sound Transit's Link light rail system. The package is a wise investment in our future, even if it's not wholly perfect.

Our tax structure may be regressive and in need of reform, but it is nevertheless outright deceitful to argue that Washingtonians are being overtaxed.

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