When I started obsessively plugging a high-earners income tax during the last session, I was publicly and privately informed that I was absolutely nuts. Washington state voters would never approve an income tax in any form, I was told, and so it was futile, if not downright counterproductive, to even attempt to start the conversation. One state lawmaker even went so far as to privately congratulate me for cementing my reputation as a “political crackpot.”
Well… if I’m a crackpot, it looks like I’m not the only one, for in an unsigned editorial today in The Olympian, our state capital’s paper of record takes up the challenge, warning that “Hesitance to rethink taxes will bite lawmakers.”
The need for tax reform is long overdue.
That effort has to come from Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislative leaders. They simply must engage the public in a constructive conversation about this state’s overreliance on property and sales taxes and how the missing third leg of the stool — an income tax — is necessary to level out the revenue peaks and valleys that this state constantly experiences.
Of course, one way to effectively start this conversation would be to use the coming special session to put a high-earners income tax on the November ballot. Some might call that a crackpot idea. I prefer to think of it as leadership.