Washington State Senators Claim Income Tax Is ‘Fiscal Reform’

Updated Jan. 5, 2009 –

Not to be facetious, but a pre-filed Washington State Senate bill calling for “fiscal reform” reads like an April Fool’s joke. It’s such a preposterous idea, it’s got to be a joke, right?

In reality, it’s not a joke. To solve a multi-billion dollar deficit, two state senate leaders want voters to approve changing the state’s Constitution to pave the way for a new income tax.

That’s right. No joke here. Their idea of fiscal reform is not cutting waste to balance the state’s red-inked budget. And there is waste (click for more on the subject).

Their idea is to keep taxing and spending in the face of plummeting tax revenue, and skyrocketing payouts for the unemployed with 12.8 percent of state residents reportedly surviving on food stamps (“Food-stamp use takes record jump in Washington”).

Then, there’s this headline: “Big year for bankruptcies: up 32% in US, up 45% in Washington state‎.”

And it’s not a joke that the sponsoring public servants are leaders. Senator Rosa Franklin (D-29) is Senate President Pro Tempore.  Joe McDermott (D-34) is the Majority Assistant Floor Leader.

Instead of doing what every Washington family and business are doing to survive within the constraints of existing dollars – the state senators want to amend the state’s Constitution to hit state residents with a new income tax.

Fiscal reform?

Here’s how SB 6250 starts in the first paragraph: “AN ACT Relating to fiscal reform…”

SJR 8219 is their resolution calling for more waste – a statewide election. It’s a controversial proposal that’s been historically rejected by voters.

You can click on the preceding links to see the bills’ wording for yourself.

“No session would be complete without the obligatory income tax proposal,” writes Jason Mercier in an email. Mr. Mercier is the director at the Center for Government Reform, which is part of Washington Policy Center (www.washingtonpolicy.org).

“It will be interesting to hear how this income tax proposal will be able to fulfill this intent and succeed where other income taxes have failed,” he added. “I’m sure other income tax states such as California will be eager to learn how to make income tax revenue recession proof.”

If you like the Senators’ joke, here is a dubious economic indicator to ponder: Allied Van Lines says last year it moved more people out of Washington than the number of people who relocated to Washington. The Puget Sound Business Journal quoted a release from the moving company, which states it made 1,913 moves out-of-state and only 1,907 moves inbound.

It is impossible to tax our way to success out of the Great Recession. And transferring any remaining wealth to the state does not create more wealth for taxpayers. Nor does it create jobs for the unemployed. If the state senators truly want a long-term balanced budget, it’s recommended that the state senators start reading here – “Analysis: Steps for Economic Success in Washington State.”

Otherwise, they will fail as leaders by chasing ill health. Surely, they don’t to make a bigger joke of the state’s budget situation. Or do they?

From the Coach’s Corner, to express your opposition to the proposed tinkering with the state’s Constitution to pave the way for an income tax, tell your three state legislators.

The 60-day 2010 legislative session starts Jan. 11.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.