The state's obligation is to
help people survive,
Click here to download a brochure
NOT to boost profits
In times of crisis, what is the state’s role? To support greed or need?
The governor and legislature have given their answer: their budgets
sacrifice the most vulnerable and never touch massive business
subsidies. Sisters Organize for Survival says it’s time to reverse that
Handouts that prop up high rates of private profit are criminal at
a time when mere subsistence is at stake for thousands. If the sick and
hungry have to “tighten their belts,” why shouldn’t Boeing, Microsoft
and the rest?
And helping the poor creates jobs! While businesses
and the wealthy salt away their bail-outs and tax breaks, workers’ wages
and aid to the needy are recycled directly back into the economy to pay
for groceries, transportation, rents and mortgages, clothing,
entertainment and health care. A state budget that helps the poor and retains living-wage union jobs raises conditions for all.
When the state subsidizes greed instead of need, our communities
suffer. We are losing basic programs that provide food, shelter, and
health care to mothers and children, elders, the disabled. The workers
who provide services are being laid off and joining the ranks of those
who need help but can’t get it. Women’s burdens become even heavier as
they try to fill the gaps. Public education is undermined and only the
children of the rich can afford college. Labor standards that were won
through years of struggle are being destroyed.
Endless taxation of poor and working people isn’t the answer. We’re already paying more than our share. We need tax relief that doesn’t throw our sisters and brothers under the bus.
And then there’s the biggest tax vampire of all — the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
that are destroying lives and ravaging the environment. We call on
state lawmakers to demand an end to this ever-expanding quagmire.
Modest proposals to solve the Washington State
crisis without sacrificing workers
& the most vulnerable
Increase state revenue
Cancel interest payments on the state’s debt for one biennium. Bankers and investment companies caused the crisis and then got a bail-out – why are we paying them one more penny?
Institute a windfall profits tax on oil companies. (A
windfall tax places a higher tax rate on profits that ensue from a
sudden, above-average gain to a particular company or industry.)
Business & Occupation tax revisions
Disallow all “Business Incentive” exemptions (also known
as loopholes) for one biennium. Includes tax exclusions for
Safeco Field and Seahawks Stadium ($2.5 million) and reduced tax
rates to support development of the Boeing 787 ($208 million)
Disallow all “Other Business” exemptions (loopholes),except for small business credit and preferential rate for
childcare businesses for one biennium. Includes exemption
from sales tax of sales of precious metals, coins, and bullion ($12.7
million) and exemption from B&O tax of wholesale auto auctions ($2
$ .944 4
Defund all military-related functions of the Washington National Guard
$ .033 5
Total additional income for this biennium
Reduce the tax burden on workers, the poor & small business
Eliminate sales tax on retail sales under $100
End property tax exemptions for non-profits/churches that compensate any
officer or employee more than $200,000 per year. 862 state non-profits
(1% of total) have revenue between $1.6 million and $2.4 billion. Such
large non-profits are the most likely to pay the highest salaries—with a
regional median of $267,048. Having them pay property tax would not
bring more money into state coffers, but would reduce the amount paid by
other property owners. 6
End the wars & redirect funds to the states
End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ($340 billion estimated for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 7) and reallocate the money to U.S. states and territories on the basis of population.
That’s just scratching the surface
There are lots of other ways to bring more money into the state:
Increase the rate of the estate tax. Release people in prison for
victimless crimes – and provide less expensive, more effective
rehabilitation. End the death penalty, which costs tens of thousands
more per year for each prisoner. Make Boeing pay back the $4.3 billion
it received to reduce traffic congestion around its facilities. Prevent
Microsoft’s exclusion from royalty taxes. What about keeping state funds
in a non-profit state bank rather than commercial institutions? While
we’re at it, let’s re-examine the question of income tax on the
super-rich and the possibility of a corporate income tax.
When you flip the funding question, there’s plenty of ways to bring more revenue into the state! What are your ideas?
Where will the increased funds go?
All programs assisting the poor must not only be restored to former budget
levels but expanded to help the thousands being hard hit by the
economic crisis. For starters: Increased aid to poor families. Fully
fund the state food stamp program, childcare assistance, and dental
care. Open the Basic Health Plan to all low-income people, including the
unemployed. Children’s health must be top priority, including help for
those without documents. Public works programs at union wages would get
things done and provide on-the-job training.
Reinstate money for parks and libraries. Tie the level of unemployment
benefits to the number of dependents being supported. Fund mediation
programs to help people fight foreclosure. Lower tuition rates so
students don’t start their lives shackled by enormous debt. How’s that
for a start?
Answering the naysayers
Won’t every business leave the state if these tax measures are passed? Not likely. In 45 other states, they’d have to pay a tax on corporate profits.
But it will take a constitutional amendment to make some of these changes! Ok – do it!
These ideas may not even be legal! That doesn’t stop the
government on the things it cares about. How about the two voter-passed
initiatives on teacher pay raises and class sizes that were never
implemented? Was that legal?
What about the state’s contractual obligations? Tell your concerns to state employees whose ratified contract was overridden in the budget process.
Business will just pass the charges on to consumers. They can’t charge us more than we can pay. Consumers – let’s organize to get the greedy off our backs!
Fight for a budget that supports people
Working and poor people pay taxes – we just want the rich to start
paying theirs! We do the work – they can’t survive without us. But we can live much better if we don’t have to support them through our taxes!
1. Proposed 2011-13 Budget & Policy Highlights: Transforming Wa Budget, http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/budget /press_packet.pdf, page 4.
2. Economic Opportunity Institute publications, http://www.eoionline.org/tax_reform/reinvest_windfall_oil_profits.htm and http://www.eoionline.org/tax_reform/reports/EnvironmentEconomyEnergy-Oct06.pdf
3. Tax Exemptions - 2008, http://dor.wa.gov/content/aboutus/statisticsandreports/2008/tax_exemptions_2008/default.aspx
5. 2009-11 Biennium-to-Date, Military Department, http://www.ofm.wa.gov/budget/fiscalstatus/245.pdf
6. A few examples: Washington Dental Services has 19 trustees and key
employees whose pay ranges from $202,000 to $865,054 (9 of these
trustees put in only 0-3 hours a week!). Its land and buildings are
valued at $5.8 million. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
has 11 trustees and key employees whose pay and other compensation
ranges from $208,010 to $2 million. Its land and buildings (not
including equipment) are valued at $30 million. World Vision, a
religious-based aid organization that hires only devout Christians, has
three officers/key employees whose pay and other compensation ranges
from $275,218 to $433,260. It reports owning land and buildings valued
at $46 million. If these and other wealthy non-profits were not exempt
from property tax, it would lower everyone else’s property tax.
Nonprofit information is accessible at Guidestar,
7. The cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, Congressional Research Service, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf
Join Sisters Organize for Survival,
a campaign of Radical Women ,
in the fight to defend women and other poor and working people
against cuts to health care, social services, jobs, and education!
Contact SOS, c/o Radical Women, for meeting dates, more information, or to donate.
New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
206-722-6057 • RWseattle@mindspring.com