The other day the Seattle Times endorsed Tim Eyman’s I-1053, arguing that it would help restrain state government, as if our current budget crisis is the result of out-of-control government spending. Of course, it’s not.
The chart above plots Washington state and local taxes as a percentage of personal income from 1977 through 2008, and compares it to the national average of the 49 other states. As you can see, WA taxes as a percentage of the total economy is near a thirty-year low at the moment, after plummeting dramatically from the mid 1990’s. You can also see that WA state and local tax “burden” is also well below the national average, and has been for more than a decade.
And in case you’re wondering where I cherry-picked my numbers, it’s from the conservative Tax Foundation, the same source Eyman often uses to support his preposterous claims.
I know the Times would like you to think that all our budget woes are due to profligate Democrats lavishing our tax dollars on organized labor, but that is simply not the case. In fact, our budgets are unsustainable, but not because spending is out of control. Rather, we have an antiquated tax structure that simply cannot keep pace with the economy and the associated growth in demand for public services.
That’s the real economic reality both the Times and our legislators refuse to address.