An open letter from Sen. Paull Shin

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By Sen. Paull Shin, 21st LD, D—Edmonds

My fellow citizens, I write to you today about a revenue proposal that could help protect public services that we all rely on.

As you know, we are dragging ourselves out of the deepest recession this country has ever seen. My first day in the Legislature was almost two decades ago, so I remember well how many times you have heard the cries from us down in Olympia about the deep and painful cuts we have been forced to make to government services. The past several sessions have been particularly bad. Every year it seems as though the citizens of this state continue to hear about cuts, cuts, and more cuts. But my friends, as we know, there comes a time when the granaries really are empty. We have reached that point. We are not just selling off the grain anymore, we are selling off the farm.

I have lived in Washington State for 43 years, and I have never seen times like these. In those 43 years, I have come to know Washingtonians as people who care for their brothers and sisters. My friends, our brothers and our sisters, our children and our grandparents are suffering. Our children’s health insurance is disappearing, our seniors’ fixed incomes are shrinking, our poor are sleeping under bridges in the cold, and our schools are losing money while the cost of universities skyrockets and our students graduate with impossible debt.

I spent my childhood living on the streets in Korea. I slept under bridges and in train stations, and I ate my meals out of garbage cans. Believe me when I say that I know what these cuts are doing to our people. As an American, and as a Washingtonian, I for one cannot stand idly by while our citizens are sleeping in the streets, while our seniors and disabled are dying in their homes without proper care. Folks, we find ourselves in an emergency, and we must act boldly if we are to act at all.

Without comprehensive tax reform, the only tool that Washington has to raise the serious revenue we need is the state sales and use tax. On Thursday I proposed a bill that would temporarily raise that tax by 1 percent. We have already written a budget that cuts almost $5 billion. It was our constitutional requirement. But I am here to tell you that I cannot live with such a budget. When I have known the suffering of hunger, and have lived through the cold of homelessness, how can I condemn my brothers and sisters out into the cold to suffer the same?

Many of my colleagues have also proposed important steps to review and reduce preferential taxes throughout our state. While important, these proposals would at most raise revenue less than one tenth of the $4.8 billion in cuts this budget proposes. A 1 percent increase in our sales tax would raise over $2 billion. I believe that almost $3 billion in cuts, combined with $2 billion in revenue represents a more balanced approach to our budget.

I want to be clear that I am not an advocate for the sales tax. But last November Washingtonians rejected an income tax proposal, so the sales tax is all we have. My proposal is a temporary emergency increase only, and is written to automatically expire after the 2011-13 biennium. It also expires automatically if the unemployment rate drops to 5 percent before we get there. I know well that the sales tax hits those in need the hardest. But these may be the very people who will likely benefit from the money raised. This is a small increase for each of us individually, but together, as a united family, we as Washingtonians can live in the kind world we have come to expect of our great state in the Pacific Northwest.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I agree we need to take care of our own. My concern is the millions we spend on illegals. I feel bad for them also but they need to go back to their own country. We should not give them drivers’ licenses, welfare or anything else. They come here because they know we are an easy state to get benefits from.

  2. Temporary?? Don’t think so! Mr. Shin, if you had controlled spending as your constituents do, the state wouldn’t be in this mess.

  3. “we are dragging ourselves out of the deepest recession this country has ever seen.” Is this some kind of joke? This isn’t that bad, I don’t care what you want to call it, I still see everyone using cell phones the malls are packed, the list goes on and on. My grandparents told me how they would work all day when they were 12-15 years old just to have 1 hot meal a day….I don’t see our kids suffering at all. check out the facts here, direct comparison. http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/recession_depression/

    “We have already written a budget that cuts almost $5 billion. It was our constitutional requirement.” Does that mean if it wasn’t constitutionally required you wouldn’t do it?

    I have to balance my budget and sometimes that means cutting the “Sacred Cows” for me that means, going another few years with an old used vehicle, cutting big expenses, doubling my garden size to aid with the food price increases that will “Double IMO” in the next 5 years. In basic terms…Living within my means! Everyone has forgotten this simple solution, specially the government.

  4. “we are dragging ourselves out of the deepest recession this country has ever seen.” Is this some kind of joke? This isn’t that bad, I don’t care what you want to call it, I still see everyone using cell phones the malls are packed, the list goes on and on. My grandparents told me how they would work all day when they were 12-15 years old just to have 1 hot meal a day….I don’t see our kids suffering at all. check out the facts here, direct comparison. http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/recession_depression/

    “We have already written a budget that cuts almost $5 billion. It was our constitutional requirement.” Does that mean if it wasn’t constitutionally required you wouldn’t do it?

    I have to balance my budget and sometimes that means cutting the “Sacred Cows” for me that means, going another few years with an old used vehicle, cutting big expenses, doubling my garden size to aid with the food price increases that will “Double IMO” in the next 5 years. In basic terms…Living within my means! Everyone has forgotten this simple solution, specially the government.

    • The state can’t take a second job, or babysit in the evenings for extra cash. The state can’t sell off it’s household goods on craigslist to make a little extra towards rent, or rent out the den to supplement income. It has cut and cut and cut to the bone, but more income is needed. This isn’t about fancy office supplies, this is about basic healthcare for children and seniors, education for our young, and public safety.

      • I love how when anybody is offended by this sort of thing they always bring up…well what about the children? The problem is I work, And work hard. I don’t expect or feel entitled that the state owes my children health care, I pay $22K a year for that already. Do I feel they are spending my tax dollars appropriately..NO

        We already are paying for education for our children and public safety. Why not cut all the entitlements and provide for what this state in it’s constitutional government is supposed to…http://www.leg.wa.gov/lawsandagencyrules/pages/constitution.aspx

        “SECTION 3 PERSONAL RIGHTS. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” How can I have Life, Liberty Or property when I have to work to pay taxes so I can work to pay taxes? I already pay nearly 44% of my money goes to taxes, federal & state. King George wants his money…so I have to pay or off with my head.

        But what about the children?… I survived just fine, so did my parents, and their parents… and on and on…otherwise we wouldn’t be here, neither would you. I feel like i’m getting Robin Hooded here… Mxitman you made $150K last year, but little johnny parents are crack heads and lazy and don’t want to work, so we are going to take your money only $40,000 and give it to little johnny’s parents to provide for health insurance.

        He will actually only see about $500 from your $40K because of overhead, but that’s okay if we need more we will just take it from you next year, if that doesn’t work we will just put in traffic cameras in your neighborhood and increase your sales tax district.

        Public safety? I wholly appreciate this approach, it’s the one area I agree with spending more on, but not in traffic cameras and cops only writing speeding tickets. My personal safety is achieved quite nicely with a 12 Gauge shotgun thank you.

        If you think the federal or state government has your best interest in mind, keep this close to your heart… The WHOLE REASON for the Constitution is to Limit The Power of the government. Which we have sorely forgotten.

        The Constitution does not give you rights. The founders considered your rights to be “God-given” or “natural rights” — you are born with all your rights. The constitution does, however, protect your rights by:

        * Limiting the powers of government by granting to it only those specific powers that are listed in the Constitution; (This has not proven to be effective of late.)
        * Enumerating certain, specific rights which you retain. These are listed in the Bill of Rights.

        • I think you need to show your math to back up those claims. 44% in taxes? You’re doing it wrong. $500 seen from 40K paid, not very likely. Show your work and then we can have a conversation – if you can prove your claims you will likely sway me.

  5. The state needs to negotiate the “step” increases for unionized classified staff out of existence to start with. I’m sure that the state’s employees could come up with ideas on efficiencies in their departments, too, and they should get a percentage of the costs saved. There is no temporary tax, look at the pols scrambling to use the stadium taxes in King County for other, cherry-picked reasons rather than letting them expire as originally adopted. I’d like to see former Governor Locke’s product re: essentials of government (or whatever it was called), as that might provide some guidance as to what to fund and what to either cut or add a fee to, since fees only need a majority vote. I do agree that voters should be presented something to clear out the tax preferences, as it’s ridiculous that those need a 2/3rds vote of the Legislature to clean up.

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