NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Ending the anti-tax mantra: Boeing and the Association of Washington Business support raising taxes to help themselves

As the Wash­ing­ton State leg­is­la­ture enters its sev­enth spe­cial ses­sion in three years, dis­rupt­ing fall plans, meet­ings, and speak­ing appear­ances for the mem­bers of both state hous­es, the ses­sion called by Gov­er­nor Inslee deserves notice for where key play­ers in statewide bud­get and rev­enue fights are lin­ing up–mainly that Boe­ing and the Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Busi­ness have come out in sup­port of increased tax­es for res­i­dents of the state. And these two orga­ni­za­tions are doing so despite furi­ous­ly resist­ing every attempt in the past to pay slight­ly high­er tax­es to go towards those pro­grams which reduce income inequal­i­ty and strength­en our shared soci­ety.

Mov­ing for­ward from the leg­is­la­ture’s fail­ure to pass a trans­porta­tion bud­get in the reg­u­lar and two spe­cial ses­sions ear­li­er in the year, it was wide­ly sur­mised that the main focus of the short­er 2014 ses­sion would be pass­ing a trans­porta­tion bud­get. Instead, the leg­is­la­ture is being called in ear­ly so that Boe­ing can begin to receive expand­ed tax breaks that would give them $8 bil­lion dol­lars in incen­tives through 2040.

Pass­ing a trans­porta­tion bud­get is a cru­cial step to strength­en­ing pub­lic infra­struc­ture and restruc­ture the way we trav­el. The col­lapse of the Skag­it I‑5 bridge alone is enough indi­ca­tion of the need to rein­vest in our shared tran­sit sys­tems. And even expand­ing tax incen­tives for Boe­ing will have its ben­e­fits, as the pro­duc­tion of the 777X in the state is pro­ject­ed to cre­ate more than 50,000 jobs in the area and gen­er­ate bil­lions of dol­lars in eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty, accord­ing to the Gov­er­nor’s office. But fun­da­men­tal­ly Boe­ing and the AWB are ask­ing for direct ben­e­fits for them­selves while they were con­tent to see our schools get crowd­ed, our uni­ver­si­ties become inac­ces­si­ble, and work­ing fam­i­lies fall behind as child­care and health­care pro­grams get cut.

Any attempt to raise rev­enue to pre­vent the bil­lions of dol­lars in cuts to social ser­vices and pub­lic goods over the past few bien­ni­um have been met with oppo­si­tion by these enti­ties, with just two exam­ples being Boe­ing and the Asso­ci­a­tion work­ing to stop any sort of income tax or cap­i­tal gains tax from appear­ing in our state. These rev­enue changes would have solved the struc­tur­al prob­lems in our tax struc­ture and pro­vid­ed bil­lions of dol­lars to fund our schools and oth­er pub­lic invest­ments. Instead, we’ve had the sec­ond high­est tuition increas­es in the nation since the reces­sion began and fam­i­lies are no los­ing access to child­care while they are out work­ing, just a cou­ple among a trag­ic diver­si­ty of issues which show the lack of atten­tion that has been paid to the work­ing and mid­dle class­es.

On top of this, more than a mil­lion Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are being affect­ed by the recent cuts to fed­er­al food assis­tance pro­grams, los­ing an aver­age of 21 meals a month for a fam­i­ly of four. The num­ber of res­i­dents in our state affect­ed by these cuts is greater than the nation­al aver­age, and indi­cates that the leg­is­la­ture needs to focus on these res­i­dents and make sure they have the secu­ri­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty need­ed to lead a thriv­ing, pro­duc­tive life.

Boe­ing and the Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Busi­ness get­ting what they want out of the trans­porta­tion bud­get could indeed be a boon for our state. It shows, how­ev­er, that they aren’t anti-tax by any means. When the leg­is­la­ture next brings up rev­enue pro­pos­als to fund the pro­grams crit­i­cal to a healthy soci­ety, either this ses­sion or one in the near future, the Asso­ci­a­tion and Boe­ing should find a bit of tact and a bit of grace to rec­og­nize that the state is pro­vid­ing for them what they’ve not been will­ing to see for oth­ers. Next time the leg­is­la­ture brings up new rev­enue pack­ages for con­sid­er­a­tion the AWB should do a lit­tle less fight­ing and a lit­tle more help­ing, not just for them­selves, but for all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans.

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