Demand fair revenue!

Protester calls for fair revenue in OlympiaFair revenue means asking everyone to pay their fair share and ending the perpetual cycle of revenue crises, while creating a state where everyone can meet their needs. Tell your Washington state lawmakers that it is time to raise fair revenue!

Our state has the most unfair tax system in the nation. Low-income and middle-income people in our state pay seven times more taxes – as a proportion of income – than our state’s wealthiest folks.

Only a few cents of every dollar the state spends on its constitutional obligations (education, highway patrol, etc.) were generated by Business and Occupation (B&O) taxes. Worse still, these business taxes were paid almost entirely by small businesses! Last year, five of our biggest industries combined – aerospace, high-tech, agriculture, timber and mining – contributed only 4% of all the B&O taxes collected. That’s right: Altogether they paid a fraction of a cent on every dollar of taxes collected. Now that is unfair revenue!

Unsurprisingly, this upside-down tax system disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income families the most.

Fair revenue allows us to use our dollars effectively. For example, it allows us to fund both education and social services, instead of pretending that you can gut one to fund the other and call it a “solution.” The good news is that real solutions abound. These solutions are:

  • Fair: Ensuring the wealthiest 2% pay their fair share by creating a state capital gains tax. This would tax profits from the sale of corporate stocks and other luxury financial assets.
  • Accountable: Eliminating wasteful tax breaks by closing tax loopholes for banks, oil refineries, and many others.
  • Sufficient: Raising needed revenue for education through putting a price on carbon pollution.

It’s time for our lawmakers to stop wasting our tax dollars by ignoring the solutions in front of them that support our basic needs, fully fund education, and help small businesses grow. By raising fair revenue, we can ensure that we are treating all our residents justly, regardless of race and class. But equally important, we also ensure that our growing economy supports a state where everyone prospers – rather than a state of haves and have-nots.

New Special Session means a new action! Email your lawmakers and ask them to support the fair revenue solutions put forth in the latest House budget proposal. The House budget takes a step in the right direction by making sure our wealthiest residents are held responsible for their fair share through a capital gains tax, and by increasing accountability through closing tax breaks for large profitable corporations.

Amicus brief to State Supreme Court: New revenue needed to McCleary

Last Monday, August 4, Pacifica Law Group filed an amicus brief with the Washington State Supreme Court on behalf Five-year-old-girl at the library.of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center (WSBPC), making it clear that legislators cannot responsibly address the requirements of the McCleary decision to fully fund education without raising new revenue.

Joining WSBPC as co-signers on the brief are Centerstone, Equity in Education Coalition, Eldercare Alliance, Solid Ground, Statewide Poverty Action Network and students from the University of Washington.

The amicus brief argues that the math doesn’t pencil out when you try to fully fund basic education without new revenue. It details the devastating impact of potential budget cuts on students, low-income families, communities of color, supports for older adults and children, and more.

More than two years after the court’s McCleary ruling was issued, the legislature has largely relied on unsustainable funding to make additional investments in basic education and remains behind schedule in adequately funding education.

For over forty years, Solid Ground has worked to end poverty through delivery of direct services, working to strengthen communities and advocating for public policies to address the causes and impacts of poverty. Every day at Solid Ground, we serve hundreds of families with children. We see firsthand that children need housing, food, medical care, counseling and more in order to achieve in school. When these basic needs go unmet, children have a difficult time staying in school, much less succeeding in school.

The amicus brief recommends that the court encourages the legislature to raise additional revenue that is stable and dependable in order to fully fund basic education. Failing to raise revenue to meet our education funding needs would result in cuts to other areas of the state budget that kids need to thrive. Without stable housing, access to health care and nutritious food, and other supports that create long-term economic security, we simply won’t create better outcomes for all kids in Washington. And isn’t that what McCleary is all about?

WA State legislature proposes new revenues

Last week, state Senate leaders proposed a revenue plan that includes a temporary sales tax increase, as well as a permanent capital gains tax that would be dedicated to education funding. If passed in Olympia, the proposals will go to voters for approval. Solid Ground supports these revenue-generating bills through the advocacy of our Statewide Poverty Action Network.

New revenue proposals in the WA State legislature would raise taxes on investment income as well as temporarily increase sales tax. Funding the 2008 Working Families Tax Rebate will mitigate the impact of the sales tax increase on working class people.

The capital gains tax, HB 2563, affects only high-income earners because it taxes non-wage income, such as that gained from stocks and bonds. Its revenue is earmarked for education, including scholarships and grants for low-income and first-generation college students, educational support services and K-12 education.

While we support the temporary sales tax increase, we also know that is it regressive, which means that it affects low-income people more than it does high-income earners. The Working Families Tax Rebate (WFTR) offsets the sales tax increase by refunding a portion of our regressive state sales tax to over 350,000 families. In 2008, Poverty Action helped pass this rebate, but it has been languishing without funding since then.

The WFTR would allow our state to raise funds for programs that help thousands of residents meet their basic needs, while mitigating the effects of the sales tax increase on low-income communities.

Lawmakers need to hear from you today! Urge your Representatives and Senator to support HB 2563 to make education a priority, and support funding for the Working Families Tax Rebate to mitigate the effects of regressive tax measures on middle and low-income workers in Washington.

You can email them directly from Poverty Action’s website.

Advocacy Alert: Tell WA legislators we want a balanced approach to the budget

Editor’s Note: This report is from Solid Ground’s advocacy experts at the Statewide Poverty Action Network.

Yesterday, Governor Gregoire released an outline of how she would close the state’s $2 billion budget deficit. Her proposal deeply cuts essential services for low-income families, children, immigrants, seniors and people living with disabilities. If implemented, these cuts would eliminate public safety net programs that thousands of Washingtonians rely on to survive, cost our state thousands of jobs, and set back our economic recovery.

Contact your lawmakers and demand that they take a more balanced approach to the budget by raising revenue instead of eliminating crucial public services!

Our communities have already endured $10 billion in cuts over the past three years. At a time when safety net programs are needed more than ever, the Governor has proposed to drastically cut and eliminate healthcare coverage, dental care, housing and food assistance, subsidized childcare, and income supports for thousands of people living on low incomes. These proposed cuts come at a time when communities across the state are just beginning to feel the deep impacts of the over $4 billion in cuts still rolling out from the 2011 Legislative Session. It is unfathomable to think that our families, friends and communities can handle more cuts to vital services during the worst recession since the Great Depression.

It is irresponsible to continue to cut programs our communities depend on while Wall Street Banks profit from unfair tax breaks. In Washington State, nearly 890,000 people now live below the federal poverty line. We need to get our priorities straight: End unfair tax breaks to fund essential services and create jobs.

Legislators can do right by our state by closing unfair tax loopholes and raising needed revenue during November’s special legislative session. And if they can’t reach a two-thirds majority in the legislature, they should let the people decide with a referendum.

Tell your lawmakers to end unfair tax breaks and raise needed revenue. New budget cuts to programs people depend on are too much for families living on low incomes to bear.

Even Mr. Money Bags supports Yes on 1098

Even one of the most famous monopolists of all time supports taxing the wealthy in WA state to raise revenue to fund education and health care! Vote YES on 1098!

Political ads we like

Thanks to the Washington Bus, not every political ad is a pack of fear-mongering lies.

People who will pay for Yes on I-1098

Lots of folks who would be the hardest hit by the state income tax on high wage earners proposed in Initiative 1098 support the Initiative because of the way it would fund education and health care, as well as cut the taxes of most of the rest of us.

Bill Gates, Sr. supports I-1098

Are we seriously talking about cutting GAU again?

We all hope that if we face a job loss or become disabled, we will have the support we need and the opportunity for a good quality of life. Strong public systems like General Assistance for the Unemployable (GAU), which is in the process of being renamed the Disability Lifeline, ensure all people can meet their basic needs when times are tough, as well as lay the foundation for economic recovery.No More Cuts

GAU/Disability Lifeline is more than just a social service program for people unable to work due to physical and mental disability. It is the assurance that, if something terrible happens that inhibits your ability to work, you will have some support. The $339 monthly cash grant and medical coverage that this program provides is often the difference between housing and homelessness, between a meal and going hungry. Currently, 21,000 people rely on GAU/Disability Lifeline to pay rent, cover critical medications, and pay for basic needs. Despite all of this, both the Governor and the Senate have proposed to drastically cut this much-needed program.

In their proposals, both the Governor and the Senate limit the amount of time a person can receive GAU, and the Senate reduces the already small monthly grant to a $50 stipend. This is outrageous. Now is not the time to make such drastic reductions to this crucial program. With less than one week left in the legislative session and legislators debating their budget proposals as I type, we must act NOW! We must urge our legislators to raise more revenue to protect GAU and the other critical programs that help people meet their basic needs.

At Poverty Action, we combed through the budget proposals so you wouldn’t have to. Check out our analysis of all three budget proposals.

Email your lawmakers or call them toll-free at 1-800-562-6000 and urge them to raise more revenue to protect the Disability Lifeline, formerly GAU, and other crucial programs. If you or someone close to you would be personally affected by the elimination of GAU or any other crucial program, please include that in your message.

Thanks for taking action to provide economic security for people with disabilities!

Washington can’t afford another all-cuts budget

Our communities thrive when all people can meet their basic needs and have opportunities to prosper. Our state has invested in our shared future by providing health care for kids, ensuring support for seniors and disabled adults, and increasing access to education. Last year, facing a $9 billion budget deficit, the legislature made devastating cuts to the public systems that help people meet their basic needs and provide for the health of our communities. These cuts caused 40,000 people to lose their health care, thousands of people with disabilities to lose their only source of income, and halved funding for affordable housing.
Washington citizens rally in Olympia in favor of increasing state revenue through taxes

Citizens rally for revenue, thanks to Fuse WA for the photo.

We can’t afford another all-cuts budget. It is time for our state to raise revenue. This Presidents’ Day,  February 15, an estimated 6,000 people rallied at the Capitol to call on our lawmakers to raise revenue to protect these investments and prevent another round of painful budget cuts. Newspapers, TV and radio across the state covered the rally that Poverty Action activist, Solid Ground staff, and Long Term Care Ombudsman Rose Floyd (wow – what a rockstar!) described as “diverse in every way possible, spirited, and optimistic.” She added that “it was a joy to be there. I think it was encouraging to those lawmakers who want to lead on increased revenue.”

These numbers are more evidence that Washingtonians overwhelmingly want a responsible state budget that protects our economic future by closing tax loopholes and raising new revenue. Demonstrators showed their strong opposition to more devastating cuts to health care, education, seniors and the environment.

We can’t let up now! Your state lawmakers need to hear from you TODAY. Send them an email and urge them to raise revenue to protect the public systems that help families meet their basic needs and have opportunities to prosper.

Honor the Presidents by getting involved!

What better way to celebrate President’s Day than with meaningful civic engagement?!

Rally to protect our economic future, THIS MONDAY FEBRUARY 15th.

Revenue rally posterOur communities thrive when all people can meet their basic needs and have opportunities to prosper. During the worst economic crisis in modern history, our state should continue to provide resources for Washington families as they struggle to weather the recession.

Last year, the Washington State legislature passed a devastating all-cuts budget that left 40,000 new people without healthcare, cut services for seniors and people with disabilities, and caused tuition hikes to our state’s community colleges and universities.

We can’t afford another all-cuts budget. Your lawmakers must hear from you! They need to hear that YOU want them to explore revenue options to help us create jobs and opportunities, protect our most vulnerable and build a secure economic future for our state.

Join Poverty Action and Solid Ground for a rally at NOON in Olympia on Monday, February 15. We must protect our economic future!

Peter Zimmerman rocks Olympia

Solid Ground Advisory Council member Peter Zimmerman had more than his Warholian share of fame this week, garnering coverage on radio, TV and the web as a representative of the Rebuilding Our Economic Future Coalition

Peter, repping Seattle, courtesy Hella Bus

Peter and 20,000 friends, courtesy Washington Bus

Kudos to Peter for keeping his cool under the media glare and delivering 20,000 signatures to Governor Gregoire and our lawmakers, calling on revenue enhancements to help save Washington’s fiscal bacon without taking it all out on cuts to the programs that serve hardworking low-income folks.  

Peter, & Governor Gregoire, from Hella Bus

Peter and Governor Gregoire, courtesy Washington Bus

You can read all about it on this post at our good friends Hella Bus, the blog o’ Washington Bus. 

KUOW 94.9 in Seattle carried this story about the movement to increase revenue in the state. 

Peter will be reporting in a future post here about his experiences lobbying in Olympia this coming week!

Taxes needed to save state budget

Solid Ground’s Advocacy Director Tony Lee was quoted in Publicola’s Morning Fizz today (item #4) on the need for new tax revenue to address the state’s dire fiscal condition.

We are going to need tax increases because at some point the one-time federal money is going to run out.”

Tony Lee

Tony Lee

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