The Democrats have been trying to spin last week’s election results to try and justify their plans for the next legislative session – whether it’s claiming that people really want a carbon tax (even though they just voted one down by 59-41%), or telling us that we are in a fiscal crisis that requires tax increases (even though state revenue keeps going up without new taxes).
So, in this edition of lessons learned from the election, we look at one of the Democrats’ other favorite mantras – that we just need to create a state income tax (starting with “the rich” of course) to solve all our problems. The reality is the income tax is still a loser with Washington voters, as it has been each of the previous nine times it’s been on the ballot.
This latest income-tax-is-the-answer spin comes courtesy of the liberal we-can’t-think-tank, the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI). You might recognize the group as the same extremists that also believe if we just changed election rules we would get the liberals we deserve in office.
The EOI is now trying to resurrect the income tax that failed last week in one of the state’s most liberal cities – Olympia. That tax, pushed by Seattle liberals on a city – and city council – that did not want it, is currently failing 52.5-47.5%.
EOI doesn’t blame this result on the tax itself – which, as is usual for liberals, was allegedly for increasing education spending – but rather on low turnout. On its rarely-read blog, the ultra-liberals write “we made progress in the City of Olympia, where voters weighed in on a local income tax to fund higher education. Even while this initiative was impacted by the depressed voter turnout, it did receive over 47% support. And while 47% is not enough to win, it is the best showing, by far, for an income tax at the ballot box since 1932.”
To EOI supporters, 47% is worth celebrating. But EOI fails to mention a couple key items in its “analysis” of the income tax vote:
- The last time the income tax was on the ballot – I-1098 in 2010 – it passed in Olympia even with lower voter turnout (while failing massively statewide). According to the Seattle Times, “the 60 precincts within the city of Olympia…the measure prevailed in 38, garnering 11,380 “yes” votes to 8,925 “no” votes.” So turnout was not the problem.
- The supporters – like EOI – vastly outspent the opponents, so voters were hearing the pro-tax message. Again, from the Times, “supporters of the measure — including the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle — have raised more than $213,000, with the top donations coming from residents of Seattle and surrounding areas. Opponents have raised about $5,700.”
Of course, the vote in Olympia was never about tax policies in that city. EOI, and its Seattle funders, wanted to try and get the income tax issue in front of the liberal State Supreme Court to try and create one for the state. From the Times:
“Hugh Spitzer, a University of Washington law professor specializing in state constitutional law, who is affiliated with the law firm representing the city of Olympia in the case, said that if the state Legislature passed an income tax or asked the voters to pass a statewide income tax, there’s a reasonably good chance the court would uphold such a law this time around.”
Fortunately, the voters in Olympia put an end to the argument for now, as the liberals can’t take a losing initiative to the court. However, for EOI (and the state Democrats who consider the income tax a “guiding principle”, the fight will go to the legislature next year. From the blog, this year’s failed vote “enables us to ramp up our efforts in 2017 for ensuring that the affluent contribute equitably, through fair taxation, to public services for all Washingtonians.”
The next step will likely be for Jay Inslee to include an income tax proposal (probably on capital gains) in his next budget proposal, which is due in December. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.