(Alexandria, VA) – The ink had barely dried onWashington State’s June budget before revenue projections came up short and nowtaxpayers face close to a billion dollars in assorted tax increases – a debacleelected officials could have avoided by keeping expenditures under control. That’sthe word from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), a grassroots taxpayer groupwith 362,000 members nationwide and nearly 11,000 members in the EvergreenState.
“Unlike in years past,Governor Gregoire appears to be paying at least some heed to the state’staxpayer protections by putting a proposed sales tax increase on the March 2012ballot,” said Brent Mead, NTU’s State Government Affairs Manager. “However, shecould do much better justice to the cause of protecting taxpayers by tacklingWashington State’s overspending habit.”
The Legislature convenestoday for a 30-day special session to solve an estimated $1.4 billionoverspending problem in the budget. On the table is a massive $494 million hikein the sales tax, which would put Washington in league with a handful of otherstates whose rates (7 percent) are second-highest in the country behind onlyCalifornia. When combined with local levies, Seattle residents would pay amongthe highest combined rates in the country, even higher than San Francisco orLos Angeles.
In addition to the sales taxmeasure, Governor Gregoire wants to make the state more dependent on unreliableand declining revenue sources. For example, the Governor is asking theLegislature to pass a punitive and unnecessary $0.25 per pack cigarette taxincrease. Cigarette sales have declined almost 6 percent per year over the lastdecade, and neighboring Oregon and Idaho feature much lower excise tax rates,so serious questions remain about just how much revenue this levy could possiblysnag. Meanwhile, businesses and consumers in the state would be further damagedby the more burdensome taxes, all because of Olympia’s inability to address itsspending problem.
“The Governor is ignoring a$1.4 billion wake-up call. The state cannot afford its addiction toirresponsible budgeting,” said Mead. “Hardworking families are being asked tocough 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, nonprofitorganization working for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedomat all levels. More information is available at www.ntu.org.