Why not Professor Don Orlich, who has proven recently he can take some great liberties with facts to make his case.
From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
More tax revenue at a huge costWhat a load of crap.
A recent round of Wal-Mart stories, editorials and letters to the editor in the Daily News all omitted some important data.
In 2004, the Wal-Mart in Moscow contributed about $122,000 in property taxes to Latah County. So let us assume that about the same would be collected in Pullman at the proposed super center on heavily traveled Bishop Boulevard.
In the state of Washington, Wal-Mart, as of June 2006, had 3,194 employees in two taxpayer subsidized health-care programs out of 16,000 employees. That number about equals the combined McDonald’s and Safeway workers in that program.
In 2003, Wal-Mart had 341 workers in those plans at a cost to the taxpayers of $651,992. Between 2003 and 2006 there has been a 900 percent increase in Wal-Mart employees in those two Washington state programs. A report recently presented to all Washington legislators estimated that assistance for Wal-Mart employees in 2006 will cost the state approximately $9 million.
Pullman city employees allude to a windfall in taxes for our city. Pullman taxpayers will pay their share of those health-care subsidies. The windfall will be for Wal-Mart.
My sources: Seattle Times, Jan. 24, 2006; and The Olympian, Dec. 2, 2006.
Donald C. Orlich, Pullman
First of all, the numbers Orlich cites are highly suspect. These figures have been leaked in each of the past few years as part of a national Democratic/union effort to punish Wal-Mart by forcing it to raise its health care premiums. This legislation, which was struck down by the court in Maryland, failed in Olympia earlier this year. But, according to Rick Bender, president of the Washington State Labor Council, "This issue is not going to die. We will make this a major issue as we go into the 2007 legislative session."
But let's assume the Medicaid numbers are true (many of Wal-Mart's employees are on state assistance when they join the company). So what?
As has been pointed out numerous times, the City of Pullman does not fund Medicaid or any other welfare plan. That comes from the Department of Social and Health Services. And 52% of DSHS's budget comes from SALES taxes, NOT property taxes.
In essence, by paying Washington state sales taxes in Shopko or Costco or whereever, we are ALREADY bankrolling Wal-Mart's "poor benefits." If that's the case, shouldn't Pullman get some benefit by having a Wal-Mart?
And we would. Based on data from the Whitman County Assessor's Office, Pullman will receive $229,084.00 a year in property taxes from Wal-Mart, including $112,784.00 for the Pullman School District.
Based on figures from the Moscow No Super WalMart group's own study , a Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter will bring in $100 million a year in sales. That represents $850,000 in annual sales tax revenue just for the City of Pullman ALONE, free and clear.
After you factor in utility taxes, etc., the city easily gets a MILLION extra dollars in revenue. By no mathematical torture can you assert that tiny Pullman's share of Wal-Mart's "$9 million" STATEWIDE health care price tag will be greater than that.
Orlich's argument is a strawman. Not to mention the utter folly of a "progressive" such as Orlich making an argument against taxpayer-funded health benefits. What's next? Will Orlich call for the privitization of the education system?
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