Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, September 19, 2005

Vote September 20

Tomorrow, September 20, we have a primary election in Pullman. Remember to take your photo ID with you to the polling place this year. The ballot is very light, but it is very important to our future.

In Ward 1 and 2, you'll only have one entry on the ballot, Proposition 1, which if passed, will raise the sales tax to 7.7%:

Whitman County Adult Jail and Juvenile Detention Sales and Use Tax

Special Election Proposition No. 1

The Whitman County Board of County Commissioners passed Resolution No. 064297 concerning a proposition to authorize a sales and use tax in addition to any other taxes authorized by law, of one-tenth of one percent (10 cents for every $100.00) to be used solely for equipping, operating, maintaining, repairing, remodeling, reequipping, financing, designing, acquiring, constructing, and improvement of juvenile detention facilities and adult jails that house inmates being held, charged, or convicted/adjudicated guilty if misdemeanor and felony acts, as authorized by RCW 82.14.350. Should this proposition be:

( ) Approved
( ) Rejected
In Ward 3, in addition to Prop 1, you will also vote for one of three city council candidates: Ann Heath, Don Heil, or Judy Krueger. The two candidates garnering the most votes will face off in the November election. I think I have just about covered all the reasons everyone in Ward 3 should vote for Ann Heath. I'm only sorry I don't get the chance to do so.

I have the greatest respect for the men and women in this country who lay down their lives to protect others: our military, police, and firefighters. That is why I am so torn about Proposition 1. I realize that money is tight for the county government. I-695, and now record high gas prices, have had a devastating effect. If you follow this blog, you know I mention that fact constantly. However, as much as I support law enforcement, I have to recommend a "No" vote on Proposition 1 tomorrow for the following reasons:

1. It's bad for local business. Pullman is a border town. Whitman County's sales tax, while being among the lowest in Washington, is still 2.6% higher than neighboring Moscow, ID. Study after study has proven, and our own eyes have seen, the competitive disadvantage for businesses in higher sales tax states that border on lower sales tax states. We need a more even playing field.

2. It's bad for local government. High sales tax leads to "sales tax leakage" as consumers spend their dollars in a more competitive jurisdiction. This weakens the revenue base that our local government requires to provide basic services for those Washington residents who shop in Idaho. That is why we are facing Proposition 1 to begin with. The vicious circle has to be broken.

3. It's bad for low and fixed income residents such as seniors and students. A sales tax is inherently regressive; the tax is not based on taxpayers’ ability to pay. Whitman County exempts food sales, making the sales tax somewhat less regressive, but only to a small degree. According to Who Pays?: A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States – 2nd Edition, January, 2003, in Washington, the lowest-income fifth of households pay 17.6 percent of their income in state and local sales taxes, while the richest one percent pay only 3.3 percent.

4. It's bad public policy. Squeezing our already small sales tax base even more to temporarily hold off the wolf at the door is not a permanent solution. The real answer is to expand our retail sales tax base ASAP. A Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman could easily generate as much tax revenue for the county in a short period of time as the increased tax will. Whitman County must continue to become more business friendly. Anti-growth groups like PARD are dangerous. Perhaps it will take real pain like the jail issue to get public opinion to rise up against them and sweep their frivolous, out-of-touch ideological objections aside. PARD has already endorsed Prop 1. You can see where they are headed. "We don't need Wal-Mart to increase our tax revenue. We can just get it off the backs of our existing businesses and taxpayers." When did a liberal ever meet a tax increase they didn't like?


April E. Coggins said...

It's a sad day in Pullman and Whitman County when we are too broke to pay for law enforcement because of our flower pot, bicycle, walking, riverwalk bridge, bus and now possibly, our trolley system budgets. More feel good, group hug, Mickey Mouse band-aids will not fix what is wrong with our hemoraging tax problem.

Ray Lindquist said...

April, -- You said mouthful in a very short space. Tom, -- lays out some great reasons why we need to say NO to Prop 1, I am still not sure which way I will vote yet, I will vote proudly for Ann Heath. So where will the returns be watched; any parties??? Would be a nice way to meet these people we have blogged with.

cc said...

I am a little late here but didn't you realizie Prop 1 isn't going to pay for law enforcement? It's going into that fund then right back out to the general fund. This was all a huge scam by the commissioners to get more money in their coffers.
I thought everyone knew that. I am surprised this thing passed.
Don't you read the Whitman County Gazette? Call them and they will get you the story that ran several weeks ago about this.

cc said...

correction: "realize"
I do know how to spell. sorry.

April E. Coggins said...

c.c. Yes, you know that and now I know that too late. Feel good tax payers were strategically hit.

It's not as it all seems, people. If I were to introduce a new tax to pay for school children eating, does not mean that any of the money will go toward school children eating. Wording is everything and marketing is a part of politics.