The Washington legislature continues to crawl through the special session. You can see where they have been by tracking the slimy trail. Well. I guess that's a little harsh. But here is a note about the current status from my friends at POWER:
POWER is an organization of low-income parents and allies advocating for a strong social safety net while working toward a world where children and care giving are truly valued, and the devastation of poverty has been eradicated.
For immediate release Tuesday, May 24, 2011
POWER members are asking their legislators the following questions:
Why is it that the only bill ending a tax break that seems likely to pass, SB 5587, targets low-income people, when there are so many tax breaks to wealthy individuals (country club memberships, elective plastic surgery, etc) and large banks and corporations?
Why is this the only bill ending a tax break that does not need a super majority?
Why are legislators adding a new tax break, SB 5873, that they can't reverse without a super majority, while failing to provide basic services to the most vulnerable members of our state?
POWER members have called, visited and written their legislators. We have rallied, sang, shouted, even slept in the Capitol Building with thousands of Washington citizens forwarding the message to stop budget cuts harming Washington’s families, children, immigrants, and workers. We have asked that the rich pay their fair share.
“And this is what we get?” asks Shelly Robbins, POWER volunteer and 37th District resident. “I just can’t believe that Microsoft can’t afford to pay their sales tax, while I pay mine. The legislatures don’t seem to make the connection that passing a tax break decreases our revenue. And we’re stuck with these tax breaks once they vote them in.
The Senate passed SB 5873 which extends a huge sales tax break for Microsoft and 4 other large corporations: (http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/High-tech-giants-seeking-massive-tax-break-1264165.php?source=mypi). Expected loss to taxpayers could be up to $1 billion. It passed the House Ways and Means committee yesterday and being voted on today and is expected to pass. They can do this with a majority vote, but cannot reverse it without a super-majority vote, thanks to Tim Eyeman’s initiative 1053.
The only tax break bill that seems to be moving is SB 5587, which closes the property tax deferral program for low-income home-owners. It has passed the Senate, without the requirement of a 2/3 majority, and is expected to pass the vote today in the House.
My buddy, Dana, in Olympia added the following observation to the POWER news release:
I think most of you know my opinion of politicians in general. This time their perfidy has surprised even me. While the Democrats were sticking a pacifier in our mouths in public they were stabbing us in the back during the secret back-room deals.
Here is the background: The Senate passed SB 5873 which extends a huge sales tax break for Microsoft and 4 other large corporations: http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/High-tech-giants-seeking-massive-tax-break-1264165.php?source=mypi. Expected loss to taxpayers could be up to $1 billion. It passed the House Ways and Means committee yesterday and being voted on today and is expected to pass. They can do this with a majority vote, but they cannot reverse it without a super-majority vote thanks to Tim Eyman’s initiative 1053.
The only tax-exemption bill that seems to be moving is SB 5587 which closes the property tax deferral program for low-income home-owners. It has passed the Senate – without the 2/3 majority they say is required to close tax exemptions for corporate non-people – and it is expected to pass the vote today in the House.
Get it? After all of the work time energy blood sweat and tears we expended the only tax exemption they are ending is for low-income home owners! The Wall Street banks that destroyed our economy and are now recording record profits as they steal all of our homes keep theirs. Cosmetic surgeons keep theirs. Country club members keep theirs. The only ones who lose their exemptions are low income homeowners. Rather than taxing the people who have the money they are gutting our schools, gutting funding for low-income health care, gutting support for disabled people, gutting funding for low-income families, so on and so forth and ad infinitum. They are gutting programs benefiting people who literally have nothing else and greatly increasing the wealth of the already wealthy. Children and disabled people are going to be thrown onto the streets while Microsoft and Wall Street banks continue to receive huge tax exemptions.
Keep in mind that while the Republicans promoted and supported these bills, we don't expect anything else from them. It is the Democrats who are doing this to us.
It is pretty discouraging to watch the Washington State democrats fold like a limp t-shirt in the face of the tax initiative assault on good government. "Centrists" will complain that attacks on the Democrats make the party weaker, but they fail to recognize the possibility that their own lack of fight for core values makes the party not only weaker, but irrelevant. Well, lead, follow, or get out the way, would you? Olympia Undead has some thoughts on the state of the State and you can read more of that here. I think their engineering to assist the Dems is admirable. The title is "how to pat yourself on the back when you don't have a spine." Nuff said. No, probably more to say about all that. Maybe it's a good thing that medical science found a simple medical treatment that will stiffen some parts of the body, but there continues to be no treatment that can stiffen the spine of the average democratic legislator. In election news, I got an email from Nancy Pelosi this am. Nancy was pretty excited about the democratic win in NY District 26. I don't know if the newly elected democratic rep Kathy Hochul is supported by a spine, but I do know she only got 48% of the vote and won the election because a tea party candidate siphoned 8% of the republican vote. You do the math, baby, you connect the dots, kemosabe. This candidate will be gone in the next election cycle barring some miracle that persuades the electorate that republican plan to eviscerate the social welfare state and promote casino economics and a permanent war economy is not the way we are going to "win the future" (thanks to Barack and his speech writers for that bit of oratorical irony.) There's more, but I better stop there for today. Go get them. It's hump day.