A few election cycles ago, I wrote that the stereotype about Seattle always passing a tax increase was just that. I mean we’re probably more willing to tax ourselves than the average Washingtonian. And we’re able to pass library and school levies pretty easily. But we are concerned both with how progressive/regressive the taxes we pass are and what they pay for. Since it looks like Seattle has rejected public financing with a slight tax increase (albeit in a tight race) we can have a more proper discussion of what taxes Seattle will support and what taxes we won’t?
Since my post a couple years ago, we’ve rejected that transit measure and now the clean elections measure. We’ve also passed taxes for libraries and education in the last few years, and helped pass the Medic 1 and other King County measures.
Of course the iconic tax measure that Seattle rejected in the last decade or so is still probably Early Learning and Care Campaign, AKA the Latte Tax. That would have paid for education in the city. Now, we happily supported education in the city in other measures. Maybe it’s that it was made fun of pretty much everywhere, maybe there doesn’t seem to be much connection between education and espresso drinks, maybe it was somewhat regressive.
And the regressive nature of the transit package was even more evident. A flat fee as opposed to a more progressive tax on the value of the car was one of the main reasons people opposed the measure, at least one of the main arguments against it. Seattle doesn’t really oppose taxes, but we understand that when the poor end up paying a disproportionate share, they tend to be tougher to enact (I think that’s different from the state as a whole).
As more measures come forth, and Seattle and King County are asked to vote on tax measures, I hope we figure out how to make them as progressive as possible, and how to make sure they go to good things.