Revenue

Washington State’s tax system is the most unfair tax system in the nation. Retirees and the poor pay far more than if they lived anywhere else in the nation, while come of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the world pay less than they would in almost any other state.

The result is not just our inability to invest in providing for our children’s education. Our tax system also greatly increases inequality here in Washington State.

While there has been great attention to the ever increasing inequality in our nation, we need to start tackling how inequality is tremendously exacerbated by our actions in Washington State, rather than waiting for Congress to change.

Even if national policies changed, our failure to have the revenue we need to invest in early learning, to provide every child with the opportunities that are their constitutional rights in our public schools and have the opportunities of higher education would deny the next generation of Washingtonians their ability to succeed.

As a member of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, Gerry has spearheaded efforts to have the Legislature end tax breaks for corporations which cannot be justified as creating or saving jobs or increasing overall state revenues.

Our state could offer every graduating high school student and every adult who needs a workforce training course FREE community college simply by ending agribusinesses’ exemption from paying any business or fuel taxes. That’s right, agribiz doesn’t pay to help fund our state’s schools. (Gerry is the prime sponsor of the House legislation to offer free community college).

In the coming year, our state must increase state support for our children’s schools by $3.5 to $5 billion per biennium just to have the state pay for the portion of our teachers’ and educators’ salaries for providing basic education which are now paid for out of local school levies. That’s about ten percent of the entire state budget. And, that $3.5 billion price tag does not even give teachers the pay increase which they are entitled to, and which we need to give if we want to end our teacher shortage. Nor does it pay for lowering class sizes beyond third grade – which we know improves education outcomes.

Solutions:

Closing Tax Loopholes
We must begin reforming our tax system by closing unnecessary tax loopholes. We currently award more money in tax breaks than our state collects in total revenue – this is the “low hanging fruit” in terms of basic tax reform.  In addition to co-sponsoring bills to eliminate or sunset many existing tax exemptions, Gerry is fighting to add accountability by introducing legislation that will require corporations which obtain a tax exemption by promising to create jobs to certify that they create a family-wage job for every $25,000 they receive in tax exemptions and preferences each year.

Ensuring that the wealthiest pay a fair share for our children’s education:
Generating revenue on the backs of the middle and lower income families stagnates economic growth and increases inequality and insecurity. In order to add fairness to our tax system, Gerry supports:

  • A tax on unearned income (capital gains, exempting homes and retirement accounts)
  • Gerry has introduced legislation to end the exemptions of corporations’ Wall Street investment income from business and property taxes – those exemptions enacted due to the lobbying of some of the world’s largest corporations in the past 16-18 years began our state’s death spiral in our ability to invest in education.
  • A corporate income tax in the place of our current draconian Business and Occupation Tax
  • A move away from our regressive sales tax, towards a progressive income tax