All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sort Of No New Taxes.

The Washington Legislature closed out the special session without imposing any significant new taxes. But the "Democratic" Party controlled Legislature is pitching a huge hissy fit 'cause the People required accountability with 1053.

We're getting a batch of new fees imposed on use the stuff we already paid for. People in the Puget Sound area are gonna get screwed via the imposition of new fees (tolls on 520, for example) to use the roads they already own.

Freedom Foundation issued a couple of press releases.

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The Tax Loopholes are Rigged

Legislative session is finally over. This year labor unions led the fight to close tax "loopholes" in lieu of budget cuts, but their framing of the issue has a few loopholes of its own. Earlier this month the Freedom Foundation sent out a press release exposing the fact that unions themselves are the primary beneficiaries of select tax breaks.

Labor unions--which have been fighting so hard to paint beneficiaries of tax exemptions as greedy fat cats who enjoy watching small children starve--have conveniently failed to mention their special tax treatment in the myriad press releases, statements and public testimony on the state budget. We at the Freedom Foundation are not the only ones sitting up and taking notice of the issue. Following our release, Washington State Wire's Erik Smith wrote an excellent, in-depth, story covering the murky issue of union tax breaks. Smith expands on the matter, revealing union tax breaks well in excess of many enjoyed by the labor-maligned business community:

"Federal stats say Washington's unionized workers earn an average of $1,068 a week. Union dues typically run one to two percent of gross income. If you figure it at 1.5 percent, that means Washington-state unions collect $503 million a year in dues.

"So at the current services B&O rate of 1.8 percent, the tax break is worth $9 million annually. It might be off a million or so either way, but that's about as close as anyone can come."

To read Erik Smith's full story, visit the Washington State Wire webpage here.

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Unions are big business

Unions are clearly big business in Washington state, bringing in half-a-billion in dues each year. We can only hope the exposure of hefty union tax breaks and the concomitant hypocrisy of union rhetoric rebalances the tax break discussion in the Legislature. And speaking of hypocrisy, when asked to comment on labor's special tax treatment, Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson responded:

"We're calling for a moratorium on a wide swath of business tax exemptions," he said. "We've never said all tax exemptions are bad or do not have a valid purpose--many of them do--but in a time of severe budget deficits, there is a need for greater shared sacrifice out there. That's been our argument--it's not just been an attack on business tax exemptions."

Right. Shared sacrifice is only a good idea when others are forced to do the sacrificing.

What's that, Mr. Labor Council President? You want to close tax loopholes? I'm sorry. We can't hear you through the hypocrisy.

They ought to be ashamed. And we ought to take action. Read the blog that exposed this hypocrisy here.

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There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Everyone wants government to pay for lots of goodies, but no one wants to pay the taxes for those extra goodies. The Democrat politicians insist there are the "rich" who don't pay their fair share.

For some reason the Democrat politicians can't seem to tax the "rich" effectively. Either the "rich" are rich because they honestly earned it, or because the rich are the Democrat politicians' buddies.

We have both types in Washington State. The Unions Bosses are buddies with the "Democratic" Party; they are corrupt. We also have rich people like Bill Gates, whose Microsoft Corporation is losing market share because innovation eludes them.

Washington State must stop listening to the soothing words of the Democrat politicians and start voting for responsible leadership. We need equality of taxation, not this phoney stick-it-to-the-rich attitude.

Washington State also needs to have realistic expectation of what government should provide -- basic public services which cannot be privately consumed. A lot of the current budget is being directed to the Democrats long-standing buddies. Hacking that off would be a start, but only a start.

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Some revenue increase particulars for policy wonks. More as the details get published.

That day trip across the Sound is going up even more than the Summer fare increase. $41,016,808 from increased fares for ferry rides. 2ESSB 5742

Water system operating permit fees. Take that big gulp now. $15,670,000 in water system permit fees. SSB 5364

Court is going to cost more. You may get justice, but it will cost you. $8,850,000 in increased court fees - final passage. SB 5941

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Red Light Camera

By Scott North and Rikki King

The controversy surrounding traffic enforcement cameras has been a big draw for people who post comments to Heraldnet.com. Some folks seem compelled to weigh in with opinions on nearly every story. Apparently that includes at least one vice president at an Arizona-based camera company.

Meet reader 'W Howard,' undercover traffic cam exec
A poster using the screen name "W Howard" has commented 43 times on our site since June. The unifying themes in these posts are that the cameras ahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifre good, that they are making the world safer and that anyone who says otherwise -- particularly Mukilteo initiative activist Tim Eyman -- needs their head examined.

Some readers have suggested "W Howard" has been posting comments as part of a marketing campaign run by American Traffic Solutions, Inc. The Scottsdale-based company contracts to provide enforcement camera services in Lynnwood and Seattle. It had inked a similar deal in Mukilteo last year, then Eyman pushed for a public vote. Upshot: no cameras in Mukilteo, and a spreading movement around Washington that has growing numbers of people asking questions about enforcement camera technology.

More at HeraldNet

Monday, May 16, 2011

Olympia can't be trusted with taxes

Tim Eyman reports

First, a little history....

The Legislature's decision in 1995 to override the voters' decision not to pay higher taxes for a sports stadium was the worst example of Olympia's arrogance, audacity, and shamelessness in our state's history. The voters said no, but just weeks later, Democrats called an emergency special session of the Legislature and said it was a threat to the public health and safety if a sports stadium was not paid for by taxpayers.

The bill passed. That declaration of emergency -- that emergency clause -- was challenged in court. In one of the most embarrassing rulings of the state supreme court's history, a 6-3 majority decided that the imposition of taxes for a sports stadium was a legitimate exercise of the state's emergency power.

Obscene.

Over and over again during legislative debate on the bill, politicians repeatedly, explicitly, and publicly promised that the stadium's taxes were temporary -- that once their miscarriage of justice was paid for, the taxes would go away. Over and over again, the People knew that the politicians were lying, that they'd later try to extend the stadium taxes forever. But politicians responded emphatically: "No, the bill was written to ensure that all the stadium taxes would automatically expire once the stadium in paid for."

They knew they were lying, we knew they were lying, and this Tuesday, the Senate Gov Ops Committee will prove they were lying.

At their 1:30 pm hearing, today, in the Cherberg Building in Olympia, we have the opportunity to testify against Seattle Democrat Scott Smith's Senate Bill 5958 appropriately called "The Latest Example That Politicians Can't Be Trusted On Taxes Act".

This despicable bill demands a vocal, contemptuous repudiation. Join us and let Olympia's politicians know how you feel about their latest betrayal.

Can you believe some politicians wonder why voters don't trust them when it comes to taxes?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Special Session Update

by Rep. Cary Condotta, May 11, 2011

We are now 15 days into the special session and very little has been decided. The Legislature was supposed to adjourn on April 24, but we adjourned two days earlier (only to return). It would have been great if we had completed the work we were sent to Olympia to do, but plenty of work went unfinished and there is already talk of a second special session.

Going into extra time is inexcusable and taxpayers should be upset. The Democrat majority party is dragging its feet on the state operating budget.

We all knew in November the financial situation our state was in and drafting a budget would be difficult. However, 105 days is plenty of time. The House Democrats waited until after the March 17 revenue forecast before writing a budget that came out April 4.

That budget passed the House on April 9, but the Senate took no action until April 19 – less than a week from adjournment. There seemed to be no incentive for the majority party to finish on time, as we didn’t work late or much on the weekend during the last month. It was a frustrating situation.

It is important to know that House Republicans did not stand on the sidelines and say “no” to Democrat proposals. In fact, it was the first time ever the minority party offered its own budget proposal.

Many of our budget ideas were incorporated into the House Democrat budget, but when it came down to it, there were still too many differences with Republicans prioritizing education and the Democrats pushing for more in social services. You can find our Republican budgeting principles and alternative budget solution here.

A special session costs nearly $16,000 for every day that lawmakers are at the Capitol. At a time when the Legislature is struggling to write a balanced two-year budget, it seems ludicrous we are spending more money for a special session.

Workers’ compensation reform
The fact that we were unable to get meaningful workers’ compensation reform passed during the regular session is just as big a disappointment than not passing a budget. This is another instance in which we knew how badly something needed to be done because of the dire financial situation of the workers’ compensation system, yet nothing that would provide long-term reform has been passed. The workers’ compensation fund is in a poor state.

In fact, last year, State Auditor Brian Sonntag sent a letter to Labor and Industries Director Judy Schurke addressing the $360 million deficit in the workers' compensation accident fund that read in part, “Our report is a warning that if this condition continues, the future liabilities may exceed assets within a few years, creating a financial hole difficult to recover from.” He also pointed out the fund has a greater than 70 percent chance of insolvency and the Medical Aid Account could also be facing insolvency within the next few years. The Wenatchee World recently published an editorial Condotta wrote on the issue. You can read it here.

Capital budget and debt reduction
Washington state legislators are considering a measure that would reduce the state’s long-term debt to put our state budgets on more stable and sustainable footing.

The Debt Reduction Act of 2011, Senate Joint Resolution SJR 8215 would accomplish both of those goals. My colleague in the Senate, Linda Evans Parlette, actually co-sponsored the measure in the Senate. The Senate passed the bill unanimously during the regular session and have already passed it again in the special session. The Senate had to pass the measure again, because the House failed to take any action on the bill.

Keep in mind, the capital budget is our budget that funds construction of schools and colleges, develops community infrastructure, maintains parks and recreation areas, and is funded in part by state bonds. Payment on those bonds is made from the state operating budget, which also funds other priorities such as education and health care.

This debt is one of the fastest-growing parts of the budget, climbing from $970 million 10 years ago to $1.8 billion in the current biennial budget. The operating budget has doubled its level of debt payment in the past decade. The Debt Reduction Act addresses this problem by phasing down our constitutional debt limit from 9 to 7 percent. This will reduce the debt payments we make in the operating budget over the next 20 years by more than $3 billion.

Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, is our ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee. You can read her column on this issue in The Seattle Times here.

The status of The Debt Reduction Act and capital budget are still up in the air. Chair of the Capital Budget Committee, Rep. Hans Dunshee, is holding up SJR 8215, which in turn is delaying passage of the capital budget. He says he feels the legislation will cost us jobs, which is not the case.

Rep. Warnick pointed out in her editorial, thousands of people would be put to work by the capital budget even if SJR 8215 is in place.

SJR 8215 is a common-sense measure to put our state on more solid financial footing and benefit our state into the future by avoiding a senseless buildup of debt.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Water rights tax

The state legislature is attacking the industries, farms and orchards in the state with HB 2050. This bill is designed to tax the "right" to hold a right to use water, which proves this legislature is willing to sink to any depth to suck up more of our money.

The impact of the bill is the farms and orchards with ancient water rights will have to pay protection money to the politicians in Olympia to keep on using water. This sounds much like the tax Olympia used to collect for rain which fell on your house or land. The courts found that tax stupid and indefensible. Why do we have to go to court to spank the legislature for being stupid thugs?

What other people read on this blog

Effing the ineffable - Washington State elections sometimes have been rigged.

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
-- Joseph Stalin