Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Suzan DelBene accepts job as Director of Washington's Department of Revenue

At an event this morning inside the statehouse, Governor Chris Gregoire announced that she has tapped Suzan DelBene, the Democratic nominee in WA-08, to be the next director of the state's Department of Revenue.

"Suzan’s background with both large and small businesses will be an asset as the Department of Revenue works to simplify the tax code and reduce costs for businesses," the Governor said.

"Suzan knows firsthand how the tax system impacts businesses and possesses the skills and vision to lead the agency through this transformation."

DelBene echoed the governor's comments.

"I know how businesses work and what government can do to help lay a strong foundation for the private sector. Simplifying the tax code and reducing administrative burdens will save small businesses money and time and let owners and employees focus less on paperwork and more on how to operate in this tough economy. This will help small businesses in all of our communities and improve our entire state’s competitiveness."

While there are undoubtedly many steps DelBene can take to optimize the Department's operations and minimize the cost of doing business, simplifying the tax code is not something the executive branch has the power to do on its own. Much of the tax code is codified in statute. And under our system of government, only the Legislature has the power to make laws. That's why our representatives and senators are often referred to as lawmakers.

And the trouble is, the Legislature — as an institution — has repeatedly demonstrated that is unwilling to act boldly and to act with foresight.

That's why we don't have an equitable and fair tax structure.

In fairness to the Legislature, its leadership cannot undertake any reforms with the certainty that a corporate cartel won't spend millions trying to undo them through initiative or referendum a few months later. Still, that's not a legitimate excuse for dithering. Real leadership means having the political courage to do what's necessary and proper for the well-being of society, even if it's difficult.

If Suzan can persuade legislators to take on the challenge of tax reform, and make even incremental progress towards a simpler and fairer tax structure, then she will have provided a great service to the people of Washington State.

We're sure that reaction to this appointment — in some circles — will center on what this means for Suzan's political future, and whether she's positioning herself to run for office again. Such speculation is perhaps inevitable, but it's shallow. Knowing Suzan, she's taking on this job because she thinks she can make a difference.

Whether she runs for Congress or another office in the future is not a decision she is making now, despite what pundits might claim.

We wish her the best as she enters public service.


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