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Nation’s Oldest Taxpayer Group to Olympia: Avoid Tax Hikes, Kick the Overspending Habit!
For Immediate Release November 29, 2011
(Alexandria, VA) – The ink had barely dried on Washington State’s June budget before revenue projections came up short and now taxpayers face close to a billion dollars in assorted tax increases – a debacle elected officials could have avoided by keeping expenditures under control. That’s the word from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), a grassroots taxpayer group with 362,000 members nationwide and nearly 11,000 members in the Evergreen State.
“Unlike in years past, Governor Gregoire appears to be paying at least some heed to the state’s taxpayer protections by putting a proposed sales tax increase on the March 2012 ballot,” said Brent Mead, NTU’s State Government Affairs Manager. “However, she could do much better justice to the cause of protecting taxpayers by tackling Washington State’s overspending habit.”
The Legislature convenes today for a 30-day special session to solve an estimated $1.4 billion overspending problem in the budget. On the table is a massive $494 million hike in the sales tax, which would put Washington in league with a handful of other states whose rates (7 percent) are second-highest in the country behind only California. When combined with local levies, Seattle residents would pay among the highest combined rates in the country, even higher than San Francisco or Los Angeles.
In addition to the sales tax measure, Governor Gregoire wants to make the state more dependent on unreliable and declining revenue sources. For example, the Governor is asking the Legislature to pass a punitive and unnecessary $0.25 per pack cigarette tax increase. Cigarette sales have declined almost 6 percent per year over the last decade, and neighboring Oregon and Idaho feature much lower excise tax rates, so serious questions remain about just how much revenue this levy could possibly snag. Meanwhile, businesses and consumers in the state would be further damaged by the more burdensome taxes, all because of Olympia’s inability to address its spending problem.
“The Governor is ignoring a $1.4 billion wake-up call. The state cannot afford its addiction to irresponsible budgeting,” said Mead. “Hardworking families are being asked to cough up potentially hundreds of dollars more to support this spending habit. It is time taxpayers stage an intervention and say no.”
NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. More information is available at www.ntu.org.