It's no secret that dealing with the current fiscal shortfall is one of the toughest challenges facing our state. I believe that we have a duty to provide our children with a quality education, to provide assistance and support to the most vulnerable members of our society, and to continue investing in programs that grow our economy. To do all these things, we must find new sources of revenue and reform our tax system with an eye towards fairness and sustainability.
We cannot have a meaningful discussion of tax reform without first taking steps to scrap I-1053. The 2/3 requirement imposed by this Eyman initiative has handcuffed the legislature in recent years and necessitated disastrous cuts to education and social services. In order to make much-needed alterations to our tax system, we must ensure that I-1053 is not renewed, and that the state Supreme Court recognizes the fact that such a constraint is unconstitutional. Since it began, I have supported the lawsuit against I-1053, and will continue to rally support for the initiative's demise.
Closing Tax Loopholes
We must begin reforming our tax system by closing unnecessary tax loopholes. We currently award more money in tax breaks than our state collects in total revenue -- this is the "low hanging fruit" in terms of basic tax reform. In addition to co-sponsoring bills to eliminate or sunset many existing tax exemptions, I intend to add an element of accountability by introducing legislation that will require businesses to certify that they create a family-wage job for every $75,000 they receive in tax exemptions and preferences each year. I have tailored this legislation to avoid Initiative 1053, and it will not require a 2/3 vote in the Legislature to become law.
Ensuring that the wealthy pay a fair share
Our tax system is one of the most regressive in the country, and I am committed to working towards reform that will evenly distribute the tax burden. Right now, a low-income family in Washington pays more in taxes than they would in almost any other state. Generating revenue on the backs of the middle and lower classes stagnates economic growth and places an unnecessary strain working families. In order to add fairness to our tax system, I support:
*A tax on unearned income (capital gains)
*A corporate income tax in the place of our current draconian Business and Occupation Tax
*A move away from our regressive sales tax, towards a progressive income tax
I believe that these reforms, focused on fairness, will take pressure off our working families, stimulate economic growth, and generate a stable and sufficient revenue stream for our state.